Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 02081370 (posted Aug. 13, 2002)"
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT ANNOUNCES
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FIRST PHASE OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY ENTRY-EXIT
WASHINGTON, DC- Attorney
General John Ashcroft announced that the first phase of the National Security
Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) will be implemented by the Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) at selected ports of entry throughout the
United States on September 11, 2002. After an initial 20-day period for testing
and evaluating the system at selected ports of entry, all remaining ports of
entry -- including land, air and sea -- will have the new system in place on
October 1, 2002.
Congress required in the USA PATRIOT Act that the Justice Department develop
an entry-exit system in order to provide greater protection for the United
States and help aliens fulfill their responsibilities under the laws of the
United States. The NSEERS program is the first step toward the development of a
comprehensive entry-exit system applicable to virtually all foreign
Under the NSEERS program, the fingerprints of a small percentage of entering
foreign visitors will be matched against a database of known criminals and a
database of known terrorists. These visitors will be selected according to
intelligence criteria reflecting patterns of terrorist organizations'
activities. During a pilot project using the same fingerprint technology to
identify wanted criminals attempting to re-enter the United States, the results
have been extremely positive. The INS has been receiving an average of more than
70 fingerprint "hits" a week, resulting in the arrest of more than 2,000 wanted
felons from January through July 2002.
In addition to requiring the fingerprinting of higher-risk visiting aliens at
the port of entry, the NSEERS program will require the same individuals to
periodically confirm where they are living and what they are doing in the United
States, as well as to confirm their exit from the country. This practice of
requiring foreign visitors to periodically register with law enforcement
authorities has long been commonplace in European countries.
U.S. law has long required aliens who stay in the United States for more than
30 days to be registered and fingerprinted. However, such requirements have been
suspended for decades, with respect to most visiting foreign nationals. The
NSEERS program will put registration and fingerprinting requirements back in
place, along with exit controls, for the following visitors to the United
All nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria
Nonimmigrant aliens whom the State Department determines to present an
elevated national security risk, based on criteria reflecting current
Aliens identified by INS inspectors at the port of entry, using similar
"The vulnerabilities of our immigration system became starkly clear on
September 11th," said Ashcroft. "This system will expand substantially America's
scrutiny of those foreign visitors who may present an elevated national security
risk. And it will provide a vital line of defense in the war against terrorism.
I thank the INS for their diligent work in getting this critical system up and
running in such a short period of time."
The Attorney General announced the proposed rule of the National Security
Entry Exit System on June 6, 2002. The final rule was published on August 12,
2002. It will take effect on September 11, 2002.