The U.S. government has ended a controversial counterterrorism program created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that required men living in the U.S., who came from mostly Muslim countries, to register with federal authorities.
Detroit Free Press (H/T Rob E) -Called NSEERS — National Security Entry-Exit Registration System — the program required registration, interviews and fingerprinting of male visitors 16 and older from Muslim nations as well as North Korea. The countries were Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The program targeted men entering the country as well as more than 80,000 men already in the U.S., about 1,000 of them from metro Detroit. Nearly 13,800 residents were further investigated, and 2,870 were later deported.
NSEERS did “not catch terrorists,” said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, a law professor at Penn State University who has extensively researched the program. “It was ineffective and alienating.” The Department of Homeland Security quietly ended the program through a notice buried on its Web site on April 28.
In 2003, long lines formed at federal immigration offices in Detroit as anxious men from Arab and other countries waited to be registered under a new counterterrorism program. The government said the registration, including fingerprinting and interviews, was needed to help secure the country in the war on terrorism. But many felt it was ethnic harassment.
“They treated us like animals,” Siefeddine Siefeddine, 44, of Dearborn recalled Friday. The Lebanon native says he went through a registration process from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., only to be told to report back the next day.(Awwww, my heart bleeds for him. Ever been to the DMV?)
Across the U.S., about 80,000 men like him — those 16 or older from 24 Muslim-majority countries and North Korea who already lived in the U.S. — eventually were registered though the domestic part of NSEERS, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. Many were interrogated, and all had to report back periodically.
Started in 2002, the registration was part of a broader program that required visitors from those countries to register at ports of entry and local immigration offices. It was sparked by the fact that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attackers were in the U.S. as visitors from Arab countries.(And now there are more Muslim terrorists in the country than on 9/11)
“It’s a welcome step in the right direction,” said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “This was way overdue.” In many ways, the registration requirement was an example of government overkill in the war on terrorism, he and others said.
“It was ineffective and a waste of government resources,” said Nabih Ayad, a Canton attorney who represented men registered under NSEERS, including Siefeddine. “It was racial profiling on its face.” (Islam is NOT a race, but what’s wrong with profiling when ALL the terrorists look like Middle Eastern men with beards?)
Out of the 80,000 U.S. residents who were registered (ONLY 80,000? What about the other 2 million Muslims in this country?), 13,799 were referred for further investigations and 2,870 were detained. Many were deported for immigration violations that ordinarily would not have been a priority for law enforcement.
Another problem with NSEERS, critics say, is that when the Department of Justice started the program in 2002, it was not properly publicized. Some men got in trouble for failing to comply with NSEERS even though they were unaware of the program. And many who did show up faced problems. (So instead of fixing the program, they eliminate it)
In California in 2002, about 400 people were detained on the spot when they showed up to register, raising fears in Middle Eastern and Muslim communities. Critics said the process had echoes of registration programs for ethnic groups during World War II.
The U.S. government was low-key in ending NSEERS: (Of course it was, it didn’t want people knowing it had weakened its approach to Muslim terrorism) Its April 28 notice was not publicized. In the notice, the Department of Homeland Security said it was “eliminating redundant programs.”
Since 2004, most visitors are already fingerprinted upon entering the U.S. through the U.S.-Visit program.
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, an attorney and law professor who heads the Center for Immigrants’ Rights at Penn State University, cowrote a report in 2009 on NSEERS that said the program was discriminatory and ineffective. The problem, said Wadhia and others, was using immigration law to fight terrorism. (Not immigration, MUSLIM immigration, as we should)
“Any policing methods based on profiling will fail — as was the case with NSEERS,” said Abed Ayoub, a Dearborn native who is the national legal director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. (Every Muslim in Dearbornistan IS a potential terrorist)