AILA: Ending NSEERS Closes Dark Chapter in U.S. History

CONTACTS:
George Tzamaras
202-507-7649
gtzamaras@aila.org
Belle Woods
202-507-7675
bwoods@aila.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed the Obama Administration's decision to rescind the regulation that provided the framework for the discriminatory National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), a program that required immigrants from 25 Muslim-majority, Arab, and South Asian countries to register their presence in the United States.

William A. Stock, AILA President, said, "The NSEERS program has been defunct since 2011 but its continued existence on the books meant that at any moment, the administration could have revived it without public input. NSEERS was not only completely ineffective, it also wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and caused unnecessary harm to thousands of American families and businesses. Ending NSEERS finally brings to a close this reprehensible program that the government acknowledges is unnecessary and obsolete."

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson welcomed the regulation's rescission, "It is hard to quantify the immense negative impact NSEERS had on the fabric of our nation. It upended the lives of tens of thousands of business owners, scientists, and family members who were lawfully present in the United States, and all the while it failed miserably as a counterterrorism tool. Not a single terrorism conviction was obtained through NSEERS. Instead, this poorly implemented program subjected upstanding members of the community to an array of hostile and inexcusable practices. Rescinding the regulation is a recognition that a dark chapter in our country's history can and should be closed, once and for all."

Background:

  • On November 23, AILA sent this letter to President Obama urging rescission of the NSEERS regulation.
  • Widely criticized as ineffective, and now publicly acknowledged by the Administration as "obsolete," the NSEERS registration requirements were based solely on national origin, race, and religion rather than on legitimate intelligence information, and led to notorious ethnic profiling and civil rights violations.
  • During the years that NSEERS was in effect, AILA members represented thousands of individuals who were required to register and bore witness to the injustices and shame it brought to law abiding individuals.
  • Clients who tried to comply with NSEERS and voluntarily appeared for registration were treated like criminals and subjected to aggressive practices. Many were handcuffed, denied access to attorneys, and put into detention.
  • By violating civil liberties and scapegoating groups of people based solely on their origins, the program drove wedges between law enforcement and immigrant communities instead of making our nation safer.

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 16122203.