President Obama must immediately revoke the regulatory framework of the Bush-era registry program called National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which predominantly targeted Muslim immigrants based on their countries of origin. In the hands of Donald Trump, this program can potentially be used to target, register, and deport Muslims–on a much larger scale than previously implemented. This is the moment to shut this program down once and for all and to resist any new effort.
“My husband and son registered after 9/11 because we trusted and followed what was being demanded of us. We got punished for complying with the government. At the registrations, my family was abused and humiliated. We were put into deportation proceedings, and later, my home was raided by immigration authorities, who took me, my husband, and my daughter to detention, even though we had a pending asylum claim. My daughter and I were detained at a detention center for 11 days, and my husband was detained for six months. After his release, he was on house arrest for four years! The only way our family was able to endure and survive all of this and still be here was because of organizing with the rest of our communities to fight back.” –S., DRUM Leader
Donald Trump and his appointees have proven that anti-Muslim and discriminatory policies will be the hallmark of their time in office. But there are steps that President Obama can take right now to impede their policies. And we need to make sure he does.
The idea of Muslim registry isn’t new–and Trump doesn’t even have to create the program from scratch. The Bush-era structure called National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) already exists and can be reactivated again if President Obama does not act immediately to end it once and for all.  If Trump wants to implement a similar program, he will be forced to start from scratch and experience fierce resistance from grassroots movements and legal advocates alike.
At DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), we saw first-hand how our membership was adversely impacted by NSEERS like our leader S. who shared her story above. We heard from many family members whose male relatives went to register and were then detained for days—some never returned home.
NSEERS registered over 83,000 Muslim immigrant men and put over 13,000 into deportation proceedings. Out of all the registrations and deportations, zero men were ever connected to any violent activity. The program was a failure and will continue to be a failure if it is implemented again.
We fear this program will not only be implemented again, but be used to target even larger segments of Muslim communities in the United States. Just because the future program may not mention Muslims specifically, just as NSEERS did not, does not mean that Muslim communities are not at risk.
We will not stand for it. We will continue to fight against it as we have already done. But now—in this moment—we need everyone to pour their energy into making sure President Obama shuts this program down once and for all so that it does not end up in the hands of Donald Trump.
1. “The Bush-era Muslim registry failed. Yet the US could be trying it again,” CNN, November 18, 2016
2. “Donald Trump’s proposed “Muslim registry,” explained,” Vox, November 16, 2016 http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/16/13649764/trump-muslim-register-database