AILA Urges House Members to Vote to Suspend Funding for NSEERS

January 30, 2003

Dear Member of Congress:

As Members of the House and Senate meet to agree on a final budget for FY 2003, we urge you to adopt the provision in the Senate-passed omnibus budget bill, H J Res 2 that restores $165 million for the border security entry/exit tracking system and suspends funding for the controversial National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS).

AILA is committed to working with America's leaders to enhance our security. We support measures, like the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act (P.L. 107-173) that strengthen our security. The Act accomplishes this important goal by including provisions that altogether accomplish what security experts agree is essential, enhancing our intelligence capacity. Importantly, the Act recognizes the need to balance enhanced security with our history as a nation of immigrants, the importance of allowing the flow of people and goods to support our economy, and the need to maintain good relations with foreign governments, especially our allies. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act includes an entry-exit provision that has been the subject of much Congressional debate and discussion.

In contrast, Congress has neither held hearings on nor been consulted about NSEERS, or about the special registration program specifically, that targets innocent immigrants, not terrorists. While special registration is a false solution to a real problem, it is having real consequences. It has diverted scarce funding from entry-exit and other critical initiatives. Limited funding should be allocated toward building an effective entry/exit system, not used to support an initiative that security experts believe will not make us safer.

In fact, special registration is deeply flawed as a program and in its implementation. Special registration targets people based on national origin, race, and religion rather than on intelligence information. To make matters worse, it is being wrongly applied. Instead of identifying terrorists, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has used special registration to identify and detain people who are on the path to permanent residency.
Our scarce federal dollars should be spent on what works, and works well. We urge you to enhance our security by supporting the entry-exit provision in the Senate-passed H J Res 2, that would authorize needed funding at our borders and suspend funding for the controversial, ineffective and badly implemented NSEERS program.


Jeanne Butterfield
Executive Director

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 03013040.