One of the possible weapons that could have been used to target certain immigrants, especially Muslim immigrants, was removed from the Immigration Regulations of the Department of Homeland Security on December 23, 2016.
NSEERS, National Security Entry-Exit Registry System, was a post-9/11 reaction to terrorist attacks on our country. Under the NSEERS program, approximately 90,000 non-immigrants in the US from 25 different countries were required to report to Immigration (then INS) and be personally interviewed to determine if they were in status or possibly a terrorist. The program ran until 2011 and resulted in approximately 13,000 people being deported—none of whom were terrorists, virtually all of whom were Muslims who had merely overstayed their visas. Of the listed countries, 24 of the 25 were predominately Muslim.
Since 9/11, technological advances have permitted Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorities to keep closer tabs on immigrants entering and seeking to enter the US. In announcing the Removal of the NSEERS Regulation, DHS stated: ‘DHS ceased use of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program in 2011 after finding that the program was redundant, captured data manually that was already captured through automated systems, and no longer provided an increase in security in light of DHS’s evolving assessment of the threat posed to the United States by international terrorism. The regulatory structure pertaining to NSEERS no longer provides a discernable public benefit as the program has been rendered obsolete.” The removal of system removes a way to target Muslims in the US.
Other possible registration requirements that could be used to target certain immigrants are still on the books; the requirements that non-citizens (aliens) carry their “registration” documents with them at all times and that they timely notify DHS of a change of their address.
Section 264(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires that every alien over the age of 18 or older “at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession” the “certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card” issued by DHS. This act from 1940 imposes penalties for offenders including criminal misdemeanor charges with incarceration of up to 30 days. There are many alien registration documents, most common are the “green card”, I-94 and employment authorization document. Non–citizens are wise to carry their immigration documents with them, keeping color copies in a safe place.
Non-citizens are also required to notify USCIS of any change of residential address within 10 days of such change or possibly face misdemeanor criminal charges. Aliens who are not in F-1, M-1 or J-1 status must file USCIS form AR-11 to update their address. The AR-11 can be found and may be completed on the USCIS website. F-1 students, M-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors also comply by reporting the change of address with their school’s or programs DSO or RO.
While DHS has additional means of checking on the status of non-citizens, one way for immigrants to protect themselves outside of their homes is to carry their registration documents, keeping a color copy of the registration documents in a safe place, and by timely providing USCIS the required notice of residential address change.
Happy New Year !