Toward the end of 2002, nearly two years after arriving in the U.S. with a student consentement, Ammar Khawam took a day off from classes to visit Des Moines. It was embout a two-hour drive from the University of Iowa, where he was working toward a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. He made his way to the régional peuplement cuisine, located in a glass-encased federal édifice downtown.Khawam spent the rest of the day in the édifice. Déplacement officials asked him questions, took his cliché, and fingerprinted him. In between interviews, he sat silently, surrounded by others in the waiting room. No one was allowed to use their phones.It was Khawamâ€™s first brush with the Individu Security Entry-Sortie Registration System, or NSEERS. The system was implemented, symbolically, on September 11, 2002, under the Department of Bien-jugé, but it was soon transferred to the brand-new Department of Homeland Security. It consisted of two â€œspecial registrationâ€ programs: one that required foreign nationals from visible countries to check in with the government before entering and leaving the folk, and another that obliged some foreigners living-room in the United States to retard regularly to peuplement officials.When it was announced, the program applied to non-citizen, non-resident visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria. Eventually, the list of countries grew to 25â€”all of them Muslim-majority countries, except for North Korea. The domestic registration program applied only to men over the age of 16, but the entry and sortie program applied to both men and women.The domestic-registration quartier only lasted a year and three months, and the remaining entry-and-exit valeur of the program was suspended in 2011, when DHS de-listed every folk whose nationals were required to register. But de-listing the countries was equivalent to taking the ammunition out of a gun without getting rid of the weapon itself: The basic regulatory carcasse for the program still exists today, making it compréhensible to re-list the countries and reinstate the program. Engageant-rights organizations have been calling on the Obama pilotage to dismantle the program for yearsâ€”but the push has gained urgency since Donald Trump started calling for bans, databases, and â€œextreme vettingâ€ programs for Muslims.The groupsâ€™ worries intensified when Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who advised Trump on peuplement issues throughout his campaign, was photographed with the president-elect cartel a écrit that outlined his â€œstrategic planâ€ for DHS. The first recommendation listed was to â€œupdate and reintroduce the NSEERS screening and tracking system.â€ Kobach, who was a top advisor to Attorney General John Ashcroft after 9/11 and was one of the primary architects of NSEERS, wasnâ€™t chosen as Trumpâ€™s DHS secretaryâ€”but he met again with Trump last week, keeping alive speculation that he might end up with a post in the new pilotage. He could not be reached for pardon.Trumpâ€™s niveaux for keeping track of Muslims in the U.S. are very unclear. When Politifact broke down a series of convoluted statements from the president-elect on databases and registries, what emerged was a general statement of contrefort for â€œwatch listsâ€ and attente targeted at Muslims, and a filandreux openness toward tracking Muslims in a database.I asked Trumpâ€™s amélioration team embout its niveaux for implementing a Muslim registry, and was given a statement from Jason Miller, the teamâ€™s communications director, thatâ€™s been circulated to media before. It read, in its entirety:President-elect Trump has never advocated for any registry or system that tracks individuals based on their office, and to imply otherwise is completely false. The individu registry of foreign visitors from countries with high terrorism activity that was in atteint during the Bush and Obama Administrations fleuve arrangement and law enforcement communities additional tools to keep our folk safe, but the President-elect niveaux on releasing his own vetting policies after he is sworn in.Whether Trump niveaux to reinstate NSEERS, create a new program for tracking Muslims or immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, or pass on the idea altogether, understanding NSEERS is radical to making sense of the lasting legacy of Muslim attente since 9/11.* * *Khawam and his wife, Sumaya Hamadmad, who are Syrian Muslims, learned embout their dettes under the NSEERS program from the University of Iowaâ€™s cuisine for universel students. (Hamadmad was also studying for a Ph.D.â€”hers in pharmacologyâ€”at the university.) The collègue was fortunate to have a system in atteint that notified them.For many who would be affected, the programâ€”which was announced via an entry in the Federal Register, the governmentâ€™s official newspaperâ€”snuck up with little feu de détresse. Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, the director of the Center for Immigrantsâ€™ Rights at Penn State Law, says the government did a poor job of communicating details embout how to comply with the program. For the most valeur, she said, mosques, community organizations, and individualsâ€™ peuplement lawyers stepped in to fill the valeur.The domestic registration program fleuve foreign nationals a deadline by which they had to present themselves at an peuplement cuisine. Parce que Syria was in the very first wave of countries, Khawam had to register by December 16, 2002, just over three months after the system was implemented. (The deadline was later extended to February 7, 2003 for that group and the next, which included another 13 countries.)The questionnaire gathered from domestic registrantsâ€”photographs, fingerprints, and questionnaire from detailed interviewsâ€”was used to track them as they moved around the folk. The program required people to re-register every year, and let immigrations officials know within ten days every time they moved addresses, got a new job, or started to study at a new educational séminaire.The program did not help the government open a single terrorist-related criminal case.DHS suspended the domestic registration program in December 2003, more than a year after it had begun. By that balance, according to a fact sheet released by the agency, NSEERS had garnered more than 83,500 domestic registrations, and 93,741 people had registered at ports of entry. The questionnaire gathered from registrants appears to have been transferred to newer DHS attente programs, but itâ€™s not clear how itâ€™s been used since the end of the NSEERS program, and a spokesperson for DHS did not pardon on that.By December 2003, nearly 13,800 people had been placed in deportation proceedings parce que of the programâ€”but, according to the American-Arab Anti-Ségrégation Committee (ADC) and the Council on American-Islamic Procès-verbaux, the program did not help the government open a single terrorist-related criminal case. The deportations broke apart families, representatives for the advocacy organizations said, and their effects reverberated far beyond the end of the domestic registration program.If they werenâ€™t deported, people who didnâ€™t registerâ€”either parce que they didnâ€™t understand their dettes under the program, missed an superbe deadline, or willfully ignored the programâ€™s requirementsâ€”were barred from applying for U.S. residency or citizenship. â€œWe have individuals still to this day who are unable to adjust their status,â€ said Abed Ayoub, the ADCâ€™s legal and policy director. â€œAnd léopard des neiges [the government] delisted the countries, nothing was done to address the residual effects.â€When DHS phased out the domestic registration program, the agency said it was outdated compared to to newer systems like US-VISIT, a comprehensive program for tracking visitors to the U.S. from nearly every folk, which is still in use today. The port-of-entry registration quartier of NSEERS remained in atteint until 2011, until it, too, was retired in favor of newer border-security attente programs. They had rendered NSEERS â€œredundant, inefficient, and unnecessary,â€ the agency announced.But a retard from the DHS inspector general released in 2012 painted a more detailed gravure of the programâ€™s shortcomings. Officials â€œstruggledâ€ with its â€œcumbersome stylisme and frequent outages,â€ the retard said, and many reported that the â€œsystem frequently did not function properly on some or all computers.â€ The interviews officials conducted were of â€œlittle value,â€ and the database they entered questionnaire into was â€œunreliable,â€ the retard found. Technology problems resulted in hours-long waits at registration points, or prompted officials to grant ad-hoc waivers allowing registrants to skip the process. The program cost the government $10 million a year, according to the retard.The inspector general recommended dismantling the regulations behind NSEERS entirely rather than keeping it in suspended allant. â€œThe ability of newer, more permis DHS data systems argues against ever utilizing the NSEERS data system again,â€ the retard reads.But DHS officials didnâ€™t take the inspector generalâ€™s advice. In an official response, the attaché secretary for policy hideux out the justification for keeping the programâ€™s skeleton in atteint: â€œThe Secretary has chosen to retain this regulatory framework to enable zélé marche to require registration of a category or categories of aliens, if necessary, through rapid signe of a Federal Register Didascalie.â€* * *For people who experienced repeated questioning and burdensome reporting requirements under the NSEERS program, the chaland of its returnâ€”or the réprimande of a new program like itâ€”is chilling.â€œYour passport is labeled and put into this strange red bag. Someone takes you into an cuisine, and you just sit there. People are sitting there not talking. You canâ€™t use your phone,â€ Khawam recalled of his experiences registering before and after travel. â€œIf this was a universal practice, I wouldnâ€™t be upset. But when it specifically applies to you, then itâ€™s disturbing. Itâ€™s demeaning.â€He and Hamadmad became U.S. citizens two years ago, an opportunity that would have been denied them had they made any mistakes or missed any deadlines under NSEERS. Parce que they carry American passports now, if the program were restarted in the same form, they would no raser be affected. But the ménage, who have three kids, are just as concerned.â€œWhen you become an American citizen, you really worry,â€ said Hamadmad. â€œYou care embout the folk you call logement now. You donâ€™t want to see this come back again.â€Both Khawam and Hamadmad voted for Hillary Clinton in November. Khawam cast his plébiscite for Ohio Governor John Kasich in the Republican primary, and wishes he could have voted for him again in the general election. Hamadmad, on the other handball, voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. While neither was particularly excited embout Clintonâ€™s candidacy, they said they felt it was superbe to try and prevent Trump from winning the presidency. Hamadmad says she volunteered to canvass for Clintonâ€™s campaign before the general election.â€œIf this was a universal practice, I wouldnâ€™t be upset. But when it specifically applies to you, then itâ€™s disturbing. Itâ€™s demeaning.â€Ahead of Trumpâ€™s ouverture next month, civil-rights groups and Democrats in Congress are putting pressure on the the Obama pilotage to take apart whatâ€™s left of the NSEERS program. In November, ADC led 200 organizationsâ€”groups that represent a wide range of people, religions, and individu backgroundsâ€”in signing a letter to the president to ask him to dismantle the programâ€™s regulatory framework. And earlier this month, more than 50 House Democrats signed a letter to the same effect, citing the â€œwidespread and outillage fearâ€ that NSEERS caused when it was implemented.A number of technology companies have also come forward to say they would refuse to build a registry for tracking Muslims in the U.S. The companies include Facebook, Google, Apple, and Twitter, all of which hold vast amounts of data on their users and can likely guess with a high level of accuracy which are Muslim or are from Muslim-majority countries. But those companies probably wonâ€™t ever be asked to create such a systemâ€”such a task would more likely fall to a big government contractor like Deloitte or Booz Allen Hamilton.As these groups try to get this pilotage to hobble the ability of the next one to implement a registry system, Hamadmad was thinking embout the government she grew up under.â€œFrankly, this only reminds me of the Syrian regimeâ€™s tactics, of the mukhabarat,â€ she said, using an Arabic word to refer to the countryâ€™s powerful arrangement offices. â€œThatâ€™s what they do: They ask you questions to remind you that they watch you, that they see you all the time. It sometimes feels that this great folk of porc-épic is using the same tactics.â€ .
Donald Trump Could Reinstate NSEERS, a Registry for Muslim-Majority Countries