Trump may be playing coy on his plans for a Muslim registry, but a recent move by the Obama administration may have put an end to his options for good.
This week, the Obama administration closed a Bush-era registration program that would have made it much easier for Trump’s administration to create a Muslim registry.
The National Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was originally created in the wake of 9/11, and required people from 25 countries, most of them with a dominant Muslim population, to register with the government and attend check ups with federal officials. NSEERS ran from 2002 to 2011, when it was suspended by President Obama but not officially dismantled.
NSEERS resulted in 13,000 people getting deported. It did not result in any convictions for terrorism or related crimes. The Obama administration abandoned it in response to years of complaints by civil rights groups, who rightfully argued that it targeted Muslims and wasn’t effective in preventing terrorism.
The Bush administration originally responded to these complaints by stating, “some American Muslims have been targets of discrimination.[…] These attacks against Muslim Americans and the Muslim communities are not only reprehensible; like terrorism, they are also attacks against the United States and humanity.”
In a joint letter earlier this month, 51 Democratic House members called for President Obama to permanently dismantle NSEERS, calling it “an affront to our core American values of pluralism and equal justice under law.”
On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security published a regulation that would completely get rid of NSEERS. It goes into effect this December 23.
NSEERS would have allowed the Trump administration to screen and tracking individuals from the original 25 countries, 24 of which were Muslim-majority, involved in program, as well as add additional Muslim-majority countries as they saw fit.
Had the Obama administration not dismantled the program Trump would have been able to use the framework to screen and track visa-holders easily. Now, if he does decide to go ahead with his plans of a Muslim registry, he will have to start from scratch.