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Changes Made to Post 9/11 Immigration Policy

Changes Made to Post 9/11 Immigration Policy

A central part of the government’s toolkit of counter-terrorism measures is the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS.  The program singles out men and boys from designated countries for extraordinary registration requirements with DHS, ranging from an extra half-hour of screening on arrival, through the tracking of whereabouts while in the United States, to limitations on points of departure.

By all accounts the program was a total failure.  It was soundly condemned by the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination because it mandated ethnic and racial profiling on a scale unheard of since the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and “Operation Wetback” deportations of Mexicans in 1954.  Former Immigration and Naturalization Service (IRS) denounced the program as a “disruption in our relationships with immigrant communities and countries that we needed help from” after 9/11 and that it took resources away from other, more suitable programs.

Perhaps most damning of all is that a program designed to prevent terrorist attacks resulted in a terrorism conviction record of zero for 93,000.

Getting rid of the NSEERS program is a critical first step in repairing the damage of our misdirected immigration policy in the wake of 9/11.  But it does little to remedy the harm that resulted from the wrongful deportations and denial of benefits that came to define the program.  And considering the fact that NSEERS was only one piece of an entire puzzle of dysfunctional foreign and immigration policy, there is a lot to remedy.

President Obama campaigned on promises of taking this country out of the constitutional darkness that defined the Bush years, and so far those promises have been largely unfulfilled.  But the elimination of NSEERS is a move in the right direction.


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photo courtesy of Jeda Villa Bali via Flickr

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3:49PM PDT on May 9, 2011

Just another agency doing nothing and getting well paid for it.
I demand an Audit.

12:20PM PDT on May 9, 2011

If you don't like the way this country is run, LEAVE. If you think another country is better, GO THERE. End of story

10:06AM PDT on May 9, 2011

I don't think there was nearly as much anti-islamic sentiments in the US before 9/11. Perhaps if more Muslims would support America's principles & do it publicly. By protesting terrorism & the hijackers of Islam. I know if any Christians were terrorizing the world in my area I would be the first to condemn their actions publicly. My point is, if you're not against them, you will appear to be for them, so get up & shout alot more.

7:04AM PDT on May 9, 2011

IF you want to go to the USA YOU have to obey their laws and their way of doing things.....IF you dont like it ...then DONT GO!

NOBODY is forcing you to live there!

6:40AM PDT on May 9, 2011

Thanks for the article.

3:24AM PDT on May 9, 2011

You call your self champion of civil rights but the attitude towards Muslims is that of racist and hatred suffering from Islamic phobia

5:40PM PDT on May 8, 2011

There have actually been thousands of arrests and deportation-hearings resulting from NSEERS and its successor-program US-VISIT (though I don't know the actual deportation-rate). There were none for terrorism either because terrorists are rare or because the system worked faster than would-be terrorists could plan and set up attacks. Again, I don't know and for this there is absolutely no way of knowing. That said, the fact that tens of thousands of people who fell under this program overstayed their visas, were found to have (undeclared) criminal records, or were on watch-lists for some other reason, is a fairly good indication that even if a tiny minority of cases would actually have involved terrorism the program still saved lives.

4:15PM PDT on May 8, 2011

Could it be that we have had zero convictions precisely because the NSEERS program existed and potential foreign terrorists knew it? Could it be that it's kept us SAFER?

I love the way all the bleeding hearts are opposed to measures designed to keep us safe, until something dreadful happens. Then they are suddenly full of wise guy suggestions.....

Perhaps we should send them all to Syria, Palestine, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya - since they have become too complacent here in America.

Foreigners should be GRATEFUL for the opportunity to come to America - not uppity about being screened for one reason or another. Coming to America is a PRIVILEGE - not a right! Every immigrant is screened - and if some are screened more than others, so what?

It's called "national security" and I guarantee you, Jessica Pieklo knows NOTHING about "national security"!

4:13PM PDT on May 8, 2011

The fear and hate mongering, going on in the US, reminds me somehow of the rise of the extremist nazi's during the 1930's.

3:35PM PDT on May 8, 2011

Screening and tracking of whereabouts sounds like a necessity for any country that does not want to be overrun with abusers of the system. It should go farther and limit entry to those who respect and mean to take part in the culture rather than those who mean to establish a third world community with first world money. No country can afford them any longer. Who is paying you Jessica, for your support of undesirable users ?

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