Religious Groups to Obama: Dismantle Immigration Registry's Framework

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Blake

Nearly 200 religious and civil rights groups are petitioning President Obama to dismantle the regulatory framework behind a Homeland Security program critics say discriminates against Muslims and Arabs.

President-elect Donald Trump has appointed one of the architects of the program, Kris Kobach, to his transition team. That, and Trump’s own calls on the campaign trail for “extreme vetting” of immigrants, have led some to believe that he will revive the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System.

Created in the aftermath of 9/11, NSEERS was effectively canceled by Obama in 2011. It had required certain noncitizens who came to the U.S., from 25 mostly Muslim-majority nations, to register with immigration officials. Obama reduced the number of countries under NSEERS rules from 25 to zero. But the framework for the program remains.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Church World Service, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Sikh Coalition are among the groups that sent a letter to Obama on Nov. 21, denouncing the program and warning against its future use.

“NSEERS was a discriminatory policy that ran counter to the fundamental American values of fairness and equal protection,” the letter reads. “Rescinding the regulatory framework of the program will ensure that our nation does not target communities based on national origin and faith in the future.”

Abed Ayoub, of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said the letter is not so much focused on what Trump might do, but on what Obama — still in power — can do now.

“We’ve been asking for this for 14 years,” he said. “We don’t know what the next administration is going to do.”

If Trump tries to revive a registry, “we’ll fight that as well,” Ayoub said.

Some legal scholars are arguing that such a revival would be unconstitutional.

Other signatories of the letter include the American Muslim Advisory Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Refugee & Immigration Ministries, the Franciscan Action Network, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

Via Religion News Service.

Lauren Markoe covered government and features as a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years before joining the Religion News Service staff as a national correspondent in 2011.

Don't Miss a Story!

Get Sojourners delivered straight to your inbox.

Have Something to Say?

Add or Read Comments on
"Religious Groups to Obama: Dismantle Immigration Registry's Framework"
Launch Comments
By commenting here, I agree to abide by the Sojourners Comment Community Covenant guidelines and acknowledge that my comment may be published in the Letters to the Editor section of Sojourners magazine.

Must Reads

Subscribe