President Obama must immediately revoke the regulatory framework of the Bush-era registry program called National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which predominantly targeted Muslim immigrants based on their countries of origin. In the hands of Donald Trump, this program can potentially be used to target, register, and deport Muslims—on a much larger scale than previously implemented. This is the moment to shut this program down once and for all and to resist any new effort.
I’m Fahd Ahmed, Executive Director of DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), and we’re working day and night to stop Donald Trump’s Muslim registry from ever happening.
Donald Trump and his appointees have proven that anti-Muslim and discriminatory policies will be among the hallmarks of the Trump administration.1 Just recently, Carl Higbie, a Donald Trump surrogate, went on Fox News and said that the Japanese internment camps during World War II were a “precedent” for a Muslim registry program.2
Despite how low Trump and his supporters continue to go, there are steps that President Obama can take right now to impede their efforts. And we need to make sure that he does.
The idea of a Muslim registry isn’t new—and, unless President Obama acts, Trump doesn’t even have to create the program from scratch. The infrastructure from a Bush-era program called National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) already exists and can be reactivated again if President Obama does not act immediately to dismantle it once and for all.3 If we succeed in applying enough pressure and ending NSEERS, Trump will be forced to either spend time undoing President Obama’s actions or start from scratch and experience fierce resistance from grassroots movements and legal advocates alike.
At DRUM, we saw firsthand how our membership in New York City was adversely impacted by NSEERS. We heard from many family members whose male relatives went to register and were then detained for days—and some never returned home.
The NSEERS program registered over 83,000 immigrant men from Muslim-majority countries and put over 13,000 of them into deportation proceedings. Out of all the registrations and deportations, no one was ever connected to any violent activity.4 The program failed its stated goals—which means that there’s no justification whatsoever for trying to bring it back.
Now—in this moment—we need everyone to pour their energy into making sure President Obama shuts this program’s infrastructure down once and for all.
Thanks for all you do and your commitment to protecting Muslim and immigrant communities.
—Fahd Ahmed, Executive Director of DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving)
- “Donald Trump: The Islamophobia president,” Al Jazeera, November 9, 2016
- “Japanese American internment is ‘precedent’ for national Muslim registry, prominent Trump backer says,” The Washington Post, November 17, 2016
- “The Bush-era Muslim registry failed. Yet the US could be trying it again,” CNN, November 18, 2016
- “Donald Trump’s proposed ‘Muslim registry,’ explained,” Vox, November 16, 2016