By Steve Neavling
President-elect Donald Trump’s reported desire to reinstate a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries would be logistically “really easy” but also “costly and ineffective,” said a former Homeland Security policy staffer under Presidents Bush and Obama.
Theresa Cardinal Brown said the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which is now defunct, was laborious and difficult to manage, BuzzFeed reports.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who reportedly is advising Trump, said the president-elect has indicated he wants to reactivate the program.
Under NSEERS, men from 25 majority-Muslim countries entering the country were forced to register, get fingerprinted, and told to check in regularly with immigration officers. The program ran until 2011, when DHS deemed it redundant. However, NSEERS still remains on the books at DHS — except all 25 countries have been removed, so no registration requirements currently exist for anyone.
Brown, who overall worked at DHS from 2005 through 2011 and is now director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, told BuzzFeed News “I’m not sure I understand the rationale for it now.”
She added that NSEERS was “costly and ineffective” and that there was “a lot of confusion around the program.” For instance, registered individuals were supposed to periodically check in with local Immigration officers, but “people weren’t given the proper follow-up information,” Brown said.
Brown recalls that the program did lead to a few thousand deportations — mostly for individuals who had overstayed their visas. No suspected terrorists or terrorist plotters identified through the system were prosecuted, she said.