The Obama administration on Friday said it would formally scrap a post-9/11 registry for immigrant men from predominantly Muslim countries.
The move comes a day after president-elect Donald Trump reiterated his plan to ban entry of Muslims to the US. The registry, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), was shown to be ineffective and had not been used since 2011.
NSEERS will be dismantled through a published regulation in the Federal Register called a final rule. However, scrapping NSEERS is unlikely to prevent Trump from implementing his campaign promises. But he would have to bring in a new notification in this regard.
NSEERS was used to register and track mostly Arab and Muslim non-citizens and Obama suspended the registry in 2011, said Muslim Public Affairs Council. Senator Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said the NSEERS program was proven ineffective and ended years ago, and those dead-letter regulations served no purpose.
"Taking them off the books still sends a powerful message.These regulations symbolised an ineffective program based on religious and ethnic profiling, rather than individualised suspicion a program based on fear, rather than reason," he said. "That has no place in this great country, under any administration," Leahy said.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee said Obama has taken a huge step to protect civil liberties and "block Trump's hateful" Muslimregistry. Last month, nearly 200 organisations and more than 50members of the Congress had called on the outgoing president to rescind the existing NSEERS structure before he leaves the White House.
Several civil liberties organisations including ACLU delivered over 280,000 petition signatures to Obama to repeal the program. New York State Attorney General Eric wrote a letter toObama asking him to dismantle the NSEERS program on the basis of its unconstitutionality.
California State Senator Ricardo Lara introduced a bill that would bar state agencies from providing information to the federal government for the purposes of creating a Muslim database. The Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the decision.
"Registering and tracking Muslim visitors to the UnitedStates is not only discriminatory but a tremendous waste of our nation's national security resources," said CAIR Government Affairs director Robert McCaw.