1. Letter
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

197 Organizations Call on President Obama to Rescind NSEERS

By Yasmine Taeb, November 21, 2016


Members of President-elect Trump's transition team have suggested that the Trump administration might reinstate NSEERS, a discriminatory system that functioned as a registry for Muslim immigrants. In this letter, FCNL and nearly 200 other organizations ask President Obama to take action to ensure that this does not happen.

November 21, 2016
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The undersigned nearly 200 civil and human rights, civil liberties, education, social justice, and inter-faith organizations write to urge your Administration to take immediate action to rescind the regulatory framework behind the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System (NSEERS). The NSEERS program has been found to be ineffective as a counter-terrorism tool, has resulted in tremendous harm for individuals who were directly affected, and has disrupted relationships with immigrant communities.

Created in the wake of September 11, 2001, NSEERS targeted foreign nationals from 25 countries based on religion, ethnicity, and national origin. NSEERS was a discriminatory policy that ran counter to the fundamental American values of fairness and equal protection. Rescinding the regulatory framework of the program will ensure that our nation does not target communities based on national origin and faith in the future.

NSEERS dealt a significant toll on the families and communities directly affected by it. The “call-in registration” part of the program targeted certain males from 25 primarily Arab, Muslim-majority, African, and South Asian countries, as well as North Korea and Eritrea, and required them to appear at local immigration offices for fingerprinting and interrogations.

In the wake of NSEERS, more than 13,000 men who complied with the program faced deportation charges. Families were torn apart, small businesses in immigrant neighborhoods closed their doors, and students discarded their educational aspirations. One person affected by NSEERS was Mr. D, a 19-year-old athlete from Algeria who came to the United States on a student visa to play tennis at Western Michigan University. As a foreign student, Mr. D was subject to NSEERS as a condition for study in the United States. Due to a car accident, Mr. D complied with NSEERS one day past the deadline. Although medical documents were available to show the circumstances of the one-day delay, the local immigration office charged Mr. D with failure to comply with NSEERS and placed him in removal proceedings. Mr. D’s story is just one of tens of thousands of people affected by NSEERS.

Government officials have questioned whether the NSEERS program was an effective tool to combat terrorism. James W. Ziglar, former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, has asked: “The question was, ‘[w]hat were we going to get for all of this? The people who could be identified as terrorists weren’t going to show up. This project was a huge exercise and caused us to use resources in the field that could have been much better deployed.’”

In April 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) took a positive step by de-listing the countries under the NSEERS program. This development confirmed that “DHS seeks to identify specific individuals and actions that pose specific threats, rather than focusing on more general designations of groups of individuals, such as country of origin.” Intending to discontinue the NSEERS program, the de-listing notice stated firmly “DHS will no longer register aliens under NSEERS effective on April 28, 2011.”

Nevertheless, the regulatory structure for NSEERS remains intact. As organizations that represent diverse communities and that are committed to civil and immigrant rights, we firmly believe that removal of the NSEERS framework is a necessary imperative. We ask the Administration to immediately take steps to remove the regulatory structure of NSEERS and stop any future use of the program.

Thank you for your attention. We look forward to hearing from you. For additional information, or to schedule a meeting, please contact Mr. Abed Ayoub of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), aayoub@adc.org, or at 202-244-2990.

Sincerely,

18 Million Rising

Adelante Alabama Worker Center

Advancement Project

Advocates for Youth

African American Ministers in Action (AAMIA)

African Services Committee, Inc.

Alianza Americas

Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA)

America's Voice Education Fund

American Center for Outreach

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

American Immigration Council

American Muslim Advisory Council

Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

API Equality - Northern California (APIENC)

Arab American Association of New York (AAANY)

Arab American Institute (AAI)

Arkansas United Community Coalition

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian American Psychological Association

Asian American Writers' Workshop

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

Asian Americans Advancing Justice- Asian Law Caucus

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance & Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership and Advancement

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations

Austin Jewish Voice for Peace

Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Brooklyn Defender Services

Casa Esperanza

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Center for American Progress

Center for APA Women

Center for Community Change

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for New Community

Center for Popular Democracy

Center for Social Inclusion

Center for Sustainable Justice

Chinatown Community Center of Detroit

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Refugee & Immigration Ministries

Church World Service

Common Defense

Communities for Just Schools Fund

Community Health Consulting Services

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto

Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC)

Compassionate Fremont

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Council on American-Islamic Relations Greater Los Angeles Area

Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center

DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence

DC-Maryland Justice for Our Neighbors

Detention Watch Network

Dreamers Moms

DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving

Durango Unido en Chicago

El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos

EmergeUSA

Fair Immigration Reform Movement

Families for freedom

Farmworker Justice

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Florida Coastal School of Law Immigrant and Human Rights Clinic

Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC)

Franciscan Action Network

Free Migration Project

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees

Georgia Muslim Voter Project

Global One to One

Global Ties ABQ

HIAS

HIAS Pennsylvania

Human Rights First

Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

IABAT (Islamic Ahlul Bayt Association of the Triangle)

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Imam Hussain Islamic Center

Immigrant and Refugee Resource Village of Albuquerque

Immigrant Defense Project

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Immigrant Rights Clinic of Washington Square Legal Services

Immigration Center for Women and Children

Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

Iranian American Bar Association

Islamic Education Center, Potomac, MD

Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center

Jakara Movement

Japan America Society of New Mexico, Inc.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

Jews for Racial & Economic Justice

Justice Strategies

Korean Resource Center

Laotian American National Alliance

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Long Island Immigrant Alliance

Lutheran Family Services

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Make the Road New York

Mi Familia Vota

Military Religious Freedom Foundation

MoveOn Civic Action

MPower Change

Muslim Advocates

Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity

Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)

Muslim Bar Association of Southern California

Muslim Community Center of Chicago

Muslim Community Network

Muslim Justice League

Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association

National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD)

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of La Raza

National Employment Law Project

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigration Forum

National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild

National Iranian American Council (NIAC)

National Korean American Service & Education Consortium

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Organization for Women (NOW)

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

NC Stop Torture Now

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

New Mexico Asian Family Center

New Mexico Women's Global Pathways

Next Wave Muslim Initiative

North Carolina Justice Center

Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates

OneAmerica

Pangea Legal Services

Pars Equality Center

Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center

Pioneer Valley Progressive Muslims

Progressive Interfaith Alliance

Project South

Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)

Quaker House of Fayetteville NC

Race Forward

Reformed Church of Highland Park

Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)

Refugee Well-being Project

Restore The Fourth

RootsAction.org

Salvadoran American National Network (SANN)

Service Employees International Union

Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN)

Sisters of Mercy South Central Community

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

South Asian Bar Association

South Asian Network (SAN)

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Southeast Immigrant Rights Network

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

STAND: The Student-led Movement to End Mass Atrocities

St. John United Church of Christ

Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice

T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Sikh Coalition

Triangle Chapter Women's International League for Peace & Freedom

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois

United Voices for America

UPLIFT

VietUnity - Bay Area

Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights

Washington Peace Center

WeCount!

Women's Refugee Commission

X-Lab

Ms. Margo Schlanger - former DHS Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (affiliation listed for informational purposes only)

Ms. Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia - Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinical Professor of Law, Penn State Law: University Park (affiliation listed for informational purposes only)

Yasmine Taeb

  • Legislative Director for Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Yasmine directs FCNL’s work on a number of human rights and civil liberties issues, including lobbying for increased resettlement of refugees, more transparency and oversight of the U.S. lethal drones program, calling for the closure of Guantanamo, and for the repeal of the 2001 AUMF, among other issues.