AILA Welcomes End of NSEERS Country Listings, Calls for Program’s Complete Termination

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11042731 (posted Apr. 27, 2011)"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wedsday, April 27, 2011

CONTACTS:
George Tzamaras / Jenny Levy
202-507-7649 / 202-507-7628
gtzamaras@aila.org / jlevy@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomes the notice from the Department of Homeland Security that the agency will depopulate the country listings from its National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). The program required all temporary immigrants from 25 predominantly-Muslim countries to register their presence, fingerprints, and photographs with local immigration offices or officers at U.S. ports of entry. NSEERS, criticized for contributing to racial profiling and civil rights violations, was notorious for procedures that were unclear, underpublicized and difficult for individuals to follow.

Depopulating the database is an important step toward ending special registration, but more is needed terminate the NSEERS program. "NSEERS was a poorly-planned and ultimately misguided response to 9/11 that ultimately did more harm than good," said AILA president David Leopold. "The government has been struggling since the inception of NSEERS to un-do its damage without having to walk away and admit that it was a bad idea. Today's notice is the latest attempt to do so."

"Results of NSEERS have included ethnic profiling; massive backlogs while government officials attempted to sort out its morass; denials of applications filed by people trying to follow the law, only to be trapped by indecipherable and poorly-communicated rules; institution of removal proceedings against people who did become aware of the rules and attempted to follow them; the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars; and the alienation of people who otherwise would have been helpful on national security issues," continued Leopold.

While the notice relieves citizens and nationals of the designated countries from NSEERS requirements, left unclear is how individuals who face NSEERS-related charges are to be treated. AILA calls upon DHS to implement policies to treat as a favorable factor in discretionary determinations the withdrawal of designation of an individual's country of citizenship or nationality, including individuals seeking adjustment of status, and to terminate removal proceedings against the victims of the NSEERS mess.

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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.