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Special Registration is a false solution to a real problem. It should be eliminated in its entirety:

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Last week’s announcement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has suspended parts of its Special Registration Program (formally known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, NSEERS) is a belated, but welcome, recognition that the program is a failed effort that has made the United States less secure. The program has wasted precious law enforcement resources for well over a year by requiring male foreign visitors from 24 predominately Muslim nations to register with the government upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry, or for those already residing here, at a federal immigration office. Unfortunately, this announcement leaves most of the program’s provisions in effect. A closer look reveals:

  • This announcement suspends the requirement that registrants “re-register” either one year after their initial registration at an immigration office, or 30 days after their arrival at a United States port of entry. DHS retains the right to re-impose such requirements for individual registrants on a “case-by-case” basis.
  • All registrants are still required to comply with burdensome “departure” registration requirements, forcing them to travel to designated ports in order to leave the United States and appear before immigration officials before doing so.
  • Special Registration for foreign visitors at all ports of entry continues.
  • All registrants must continue to report any change of address, employment, or educational institution to immigration officials within 10 days of the change.
  • Outreach to immigrant communities remains inadequate, as notice to registrants can be given either by regular mail, email, or publication of a notice in the Federal Register.
  • All registrants who failed to comply with “re-registration” requirements prior to this week’s announcement have been granted no relief and still face removal proceedings.

  • Nearly 180,000 men have been registered under Special Registration since its inception. Not one has been charged with terrorism as a result of the program.
  • Even DHS admitted that ending these parts of Special Registration in favor of a “more tailored system” would improve its effectiveness. DHS specifically noted these new steps will enable it to reallocate nearly 62,000 work hours in the next six months, and reduce the burden on the public by over 103,000 total hours.
  • Over 13,000 registrants have been placed in removal proceedings; others have been denied admission to the United States or denied benefits because of Special Registration.
  • By relying on crude racial and ethnic profiling, Special Registration has created a culture of fear and suspicion in Muslim communities discouraging cooperation with antiterrorism efforts.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org