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Obama Can Stop the Trump Administration From Targeting and Discriminating Against Muslim and Arab Immigrants

President-elect Donald Trump could reinstall the "extreme vetting" program unless President Barack Obama takes action now. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

This Monday, December 12, the ACLU will be joining Color of Change, 18 Million Rising,, MoveOn, DRUM — Desis Rising Up and Moving, and others to deliver over 280,000 petition signatures calling on President Obama to repeal the special registration system targeting Muslim and Arab immigrants before Donald Trump takes office.

The President-elect has promised on multiple occasions to target Muslim immigrants for “extreme vetting” — a truly terrifying prospect. In 2017, he could make this threat a reality by activating the dormant National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program with the flip of a switch — unless President Obama takes action now.

The NSEERS “special” registration system was put in place by President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11. President Obama discontinued NSEERS in 2011 but left the regulatory framework on the books, ready to be reactivated at any time. If the Obama administration rescinds the NSEERS regulation now, that will terminate the registration program, leaving nothing for the next administration to reactivate.

This program is not only discriminatory and dangerous — it’s completely ineffective as a security measure. In its nearly 10 years of operation, NSEERS did not produce a single terrorism conviction. Even the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security — the department’s watchdog — said the program was unreliable and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The ACLU is taking action now to get rid of the authoritarian tools the Trump administration can use to target immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. Join us this Monday, December 12, at 1:45 p.m. at Lafayette Square in front of the White House for a rally. We’ll deliver over 280,000 petition signatures to take a stand against discrimination and hate and demonstrate that we won’t stand idly by as the incoming administration tries to dismantle our free and open society. Sign the petition here.  

Joanne Lin

Joanne Lin works on immigration issues for the ACLU.

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