Obama Tried to Shut Down National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) on Immigration December 22, 2016 but needed 60 Days to Make it Law so President Trump could not use the extreme vetting process on refugees and immigrants.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Pub.L. 82–414, 66 Stat. 163, enacted June 27, 1952), also known as the McCarran–Walter Act, restricted immigration into the U.S. and is codified under Title 8 of the United States Code (8 U.S.C. ch. 12). The Act governs primarily immigration to and citizenship in the United States. It has been in effect since December 24, 1952. Before this Act, a variety of statutes governed immigration law but were not organized within one body of text.
President Harry Truman, a Democrat, vetoed the Act because he regarded the bill as “un-American” and discriminatory. His veto message said:
Today, we are “protecting” ourselves as we were in 1924, against being flooded by immigrants from Eastern Europe. This is fantastic. … We do not need to be protected against immigrants from these countries–on the contrary we want to stretch out a helping hand, to save those who have managed to flee into Western Europe, to succor those who are brave enough to escape from barbarism, to welcome and restore them against the day when their countries will, as we hope, be free again. These are only a few examples of the absurdity, the cruelty of carrying over into this year of 1952 the isolationist limitations of our 1924 law.
In no other realm of our national life are we so hampered and stultified by the dead hand of the past, as we are in this field of immigration.
Truman’s veto was overridden by a vote of 278 to 113 in the House and 57 to 26 in the Senate.
Speaking in the Senate on March 2, 1953, McCarran said:
I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions, which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds and colors. … However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States. … I do not intend to become prophetic, but if the enemies of this legislation succeed in riddling it to pieces, or in amending it beyond recognition, they will have contributed more to promote this nation’s downfall than any other group since we achieved our independence as a nation.
The Act abolished racial restrictions found in United States immigration and naturalization statutes going back to the Naturalization Act of 1790. The 1952 Act retained a quota system for nationalities and regions. Eventually, the Act established a preference system, which determined which ethnic groups were desirable immigrants and placed great importance on labor qualifications.
The Act defined three types of immigrants: immigrants with special skills or relatives of U.S. citizens who were exempt from quotas and who were to be admitted without restrictions; average immigrants whose numbers were not supposed to exceed 270,000 per year; and refugees.
The Act allowed the government to deport immigrants or naturalized citizens engaged in subversive activities and also allowed the barring of suspected subversives from entering the country. It was used to bar members and former members and “fellow travelers” of the Communist Party from entry into the United States, even those who had not been associated with the party for decades.
It expanded the definition of the “United States” for nationality purposes, which already included Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, to add Guam. Persons born in these territories on or after December 24, 1952 acquire U.S. citizenship at birth on the same terms as persons born in other parts of the United States.
A 1962 guideline explained procedures under the Act:
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 requires an alien to apply for a petition for naturalization. This form may be obtained from any office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a division of the Department of Justice, or from any court authorized to naturalize aliens.
Before applying, an alien must be at least 18 years old and must have been lawfully admitted to live permanently in the United States. He must have lived in the United States for five years and for the last six months in the state where he seeks to be naturalized. In some cases, he need only have lived three years in the United States. He must be of good moral character and “attached to the principles of the Constitution”. The law states that an alien is not of good moral character if he is a drunkard, has committed adultery, has more than one wife, makes his living by gambling, has lied to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, has been in jail more than 180 days for any reason during his five years in the United States, or is a convicted murderer.
Among those excluded under the Act before it was amended in 1990 were:
- Kōbō Abe, Japanese writer
- Tom Bottomore, British sociologist
- Dennis Brutus, South African writer
- Boris Christoff, Bulgarian opera singer
- Julio Cortázar, Argentine novelist
- Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian poet
- Michel Foucault, French philosopher
- Dario Fo, Italian playwright and recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature
- Carlos Fuentes, Mexican writer
- Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian novelist and recipient of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature
- Graham Greene, British writer
- Doris Lessing, writer and recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature (Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) / Great Britain)
- Ernest Mandel, scholar and Trotskyist activist
- Farley Mowat, Canadian writer
- Jan Myrdal, Swedish scholar
- Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and recipient of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature
- Carl Paivio, Finnish labor activist and anarchist
- Angel Rama, Uruguayan scholar
- Margaret Randall, writer, translator, and activist
- Pierre Trudeau, prior to becoming Prime Minister of Canada.
It has not been substantiated that all of the aforementioned formally petitioned to become United State Citizens, although many were banned from travelling to the US because of anti-American political views and/or criminal records. Among those listed, there are noted communists, socialists, and anti-American sympathizers.
Parts of the Act remain in place today, but it has been amended many times and was modified substantially by the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965.
When regulations issued under the authority of the Passport Act of 1926 were challenged in Haig v. Agee, Congress enacted section § 707(b) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1979 (Pub.L. 95–426, 92 Stat. 993, enacted October 7, 1978), amending § 215 of the Immigration and Nationality Act making it unlawful to travel abroad without a passport. Until that legislation, under the Travel Control Act of 1918, the president had the authority to require passports for foreign travel only in time of war.
Provisions that excluded certain classes of immigrants based on their political beliefs were revoked by the Immigration Act of 1990.
The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) or INS Special Registration was a system for registering certain non-citizens within the United States, initiated in September 2002 as part of the War on Terrorism. Portions were suspended as of April 27, 2011, and the entirety of the regulation was deleted on December 22, 2016.
This system had two separate components: port-of-entry registration and domestic registration. In each case, those who registered were fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed. They were required to provide detailed information about their plans and to update Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if their plans change. They were only permitted to enter and depart the U.S. through designated ports of entry. On December 22, 2016 the Obama administration announced that it would dismantle the NSEERS regulatory framework, which would essentially cancel the program. My question is what action did Obama take to cancel the program of this Legal Act and where is the proof?
The program was started in 2002 under the Bush administration to increase screening of travelers from specific countries. Because a majority of these countries were predominantly Muslim cultures, the American Civil Liberties Union said the program unjustly targeted individuals based on religion.
In January 2003, Mark Corallo, then a Justice Department spokesman, said NSEERS helped law enforcement authorities apprehend 330 “known criminals” and three “known terrorists”; Corallo made these remarks in order to advocate for renewed funding for the program, for which the Bush administration was requesting $16.8 million per fiscal year. However by 1 December 2016, “no” known terrorism convictions resulted from the program,” according to a letter from some Democratic Members of Congress and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. By January 2003, at least 138,000 individuals were registered in NSEERS, according to testimony by the Department of Homeland Security to Congress. As of May 2003, 82,581 individuals had complied with the domestic portion of the program. Of these, at least 13,153 were placed in deportation proceedings. Although the program originally included a requirement to re-register annually, the Department of Homeland Security, which gained jurisdiction over the program, eliminated this requirement.
Immigrant rights advocates such as Rabia Chaudry criticized the program, particularly the domestic portion of it, for profiling on the basis of ethnicity and religion as well as generally undermining immigrants’ rights. They noted that 24 of the 25 countries included on the list are predominantly Muslim, while all of the countries are in Asia or Africa. As the ACLU noted, the program was ineffective due to it producing no terrorism-related convictions in the 93,000 cases it created. Given the large numbers involved and the nature of the requirements, they argued, it was unlikely to find any members of Al Qaeda. NSEERS was probed in the documentary film “Aliens Among Us” by Martina Radwan, for the effect it had on immigrant families of Arab origin.
The system was discontinued in 2011 under the Obama administration, whereupon the Department of Homeland Security said that the registration system had become outdated in the wake of new technology.
NSEERS was indefinitely suspended as of April 27, 2011, when the US-VISIT program was instituted as its replacement. The Department of Homeland Security website says, “Because the Secretary of Homeland Security’s authority under the NSEERS regulations is broader than the manual information flow based on country designation that has now ended, the underlying NSEERS regulation will remain in place in the event a special registration program is again needed.”
On November 22, 2016 the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee submitted a letter co-signed by nearly 200 organizations to President Barack Obama, calling on his administration to rescind the regulatory framework behind the NSEERS. The letter was submitted on behalf of nearly 200 civil and human rights, civil liberties, education, social justice, and inter-faith organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil Human Rights, American Immigration Council, Center for American Progress, National Council of La Raza, the National Immigration Forum, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The letter reads in part, “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.”
The registration system was ordered to be removed near the end of the President Obama’s second term 2016 as a preemptive effort to stem his successor, Donald Trump, from using it. However, because the order occurred within the last 60 days of a President’s term, if it is a “major regulation,” (major social policy significance or cost of more than $100 million dollars) it is subject to Congressional review (see Midnight regulations), and may be voided by an act such as the proposed Midnight Rules Relief Act, which has already passed the House of Representatives. Trump’s advisers had suggested keeping the system to track immigrants.; the Obama administration’s order to remove the system indicates the program was redundant because it called for manual collection of data that is now captured automatically.
Process of creating new regulations
The United States Congress passes laws that sometimes outline only broad policy mandates. Rulemaking by the specialist agencies in the executive branch adds necessary detail to these laws. Rulemaking also provides an administration with an opportunity to exert political influence over government without having to go through Congress to change the law.
U.S. federal law mandates a 60-day waiting period before any major regulatory changes become law. Thus, some Presidents try to publish new major regulations on November 21, 60 days before the new President’s inauguration on January 20. “Minor” regulations, or those that have less than US$100 million in effect on the economy or do not have major social policy significance, have a similar 30-day waiting period. Tom Firey, of the Cato Institute‘s Regulation magazine, argues that most midnight regulations are in fact primarily political symbolism rather than major regulatory change. Regulations that have not yet become law can be placed on hold by the incoming President.
Port-of-entry registration was required for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria (including those that were born in these countries but have a passport from a different country), in addition to any other non-citizen, non-permanent residents determined in advance by the United States Department of State or the INS, or as they enter the country by INS inspectors. This system began on September 10, 2002.
Certain non-citizens who were in the United States prior to September 10, 2002, were required to register in person at an INS office. This procedure was required of males over the age of sixteen who entered the United States legally on particular types of visa (primarily student, work, and tourist) from certain countries. Countries were named on four occasions:
- Group 1: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria
- Group 2: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen
- Group 3: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia
- Group 4: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait
The deadlines for registration were December 16, 2002 (Group 1), January 10, 2003 (Group 2), February 21, 2003 (Group 3), March 28, 2003 (Group 4). The deadlines for Group 1 and 2 registrations were later extended until February 7, 2003. The deadlines for Groups 3 and 4 were extended to March 21, 2003 and April 25, 2003.