Jan 3, 2013

Christian Indonesians Live In NJ Church's Sanctuary to Avoid Deportation


Dec. 24, 2012

This Christmas marks Day 295 for a central New Jersey church playing host to a group of Indonesians living within its sanctuary.

Five Christian men remain at the church, hoping its brick walls and their own strong faith keep them from being deported. Three others from their families and congregation also immediately face being sent back.

Read the article in its' entirety at the following link:

Door Mat, Not Welcome Mat: Immigrants Tell of Re-Entry Hurdles

By Devika Koppikar

Nearly two years after the termination of the controversial NSEERS program (for National Security Entry-Exit Registration System) (http://www.dhs.gov/dhs-removes-designated-countries-nseers-registration-may-2011) many immigrants continue to face barriers at U.S. ports-of-entries when returning from overseas trips.

Read the article in its' entirety at the following link: http://www.asianfortunenews.com/article_0113.php?article_id=57

Jul 11, 2012

Lautenberg to introduce legislation to help Indonesian immigrants

Written by
Susan Loyer

HIGHLAND PARK — Some much-needed good news has been received by the Indonesian community and its supporters and it comes at the heels of yet another Indonesian immigrant finding sanctuary at a borough church rather than face deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

The New Jersey assembly approved a resolution urging federal officials to pass HR-3590 — the Indonesian Refugee Family Protection Act. If passed, the federal bill, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-N.J., will allow qualifying Indonesian immigrants the opportunity to reopen asylum claims that were denied solely for missing a one-year filing deadline.

In addition, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., announced Friday that he will introduce a companion bill to HR-3590 in the U.S.Senate next week.

“These Indonesian families sought refuge in our country to keep their families safe from harm and religious persecution,” Lautenberg said in a news release. “America has a long history of protecting refugees from persecution and this legislation gives these families a chance to legally seek asylum and to continue contributing to our country.”

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, many Indonesian Christians came to the United States on tourist visas to escape religious persecution in their homeland.

At the request of the U.S. government, many of the Indonesians registered with the government under a program requiring the registration of non-citizen males from certain countries following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Following this registration, the government began deportation proceedings against some Indonesians who had overstayed their visas.

Many of these families have lived, worked, and paid taxes in the United States for years and now have children who are U.S. citizens. A number of these families have settled in areas surrounding Highland Park, where they have become a part of the community.

The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, co-pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, which has granted sanctuary to nine immigrants in danger of deportation, was grateful to legislators for their support.

“It’s a huge affirmation for us that our elected officials agree with the concerns that we are highlighting and that there is a real human rights concern for people we love deeply,’’ Kaper-Dale said. “These affirmations will make us push harder than ever. It show that legislators are taking notice.’’

The state’s legislative resolution was sponsored by Assemblyman Peter Barnes III, D-Middlesex, and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr., D-Middlesex.

“Many of these individuals and families came to this country in the 1990’s to escape religious persecution and since then have become vibrant members of our community,’’ said Barnes, who visited the immigrants staying at the Reformed Church of Highland Park in May. “Deporting these people will sever families and cause a great deal of financial and other unforeseen problems for both them and our community.’’

Barnes said he believes the policy will protect friends and neighbors from being sent back to a place of unspeakable religious violence.

“We cannot in good conscience let our friends be sent back to a place where churches and homes are burned, lynching occurs and the penalty for being accused of blasphemy is death,’’ he said.

Letter from Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to DHS on NSEERS

Congress of the United States
Washington, DC 20515





Executive Board

Rep. Judy Chu

Rep. Madelene z. Bordallo

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa

Chair Emeritus
Rep. MichaelM. Honda

Sen. DanielK. Akaka
Sen. DanielK. Inouye
Rep. Xavier Becerra
Rep. Hansen Clarke
Rep. EniFaleomavaega
Rep. AlGreen
Rep. Mazie K. Hirono
Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. Doris 0. Matsui
Rep. Gregorio Sablan
Rep. Bobby Scott

Associate Members

Rep. Karen Bass
Rep. Howard Berman
Rep. Gerald Connolly
Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
Rep. Joseph Crowley
Rep. Susan Davis
Rep. Bob Filner
Rep. RaulM. Grijalva
Rep. Janice Hahn
Rep. Zoe Lofgren
Rep. Carolyn Maloney
Rep. Betty McCollum
Rep. Jerry McNerney
Rep. Grace Napolitano
Rep. Charlie Rangel
Rep. Laura Richardson
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard
Rep. Linda SAnchez
Rep. Loretta Sanchez
Rep. Janice Schakowsky
Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Brad Sherman
Rep. Adam Smith
Rep. Jackie Speier
Rep. Pete Stark
Rep. Chris Van Hollen
Rep. Lynn Woolsey

June 21, 2012

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

We, on behalf of the 43 Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), write to express concern about the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which went into effect following the terrorist attacks of September l1th and primarily targeted Muslim and Arab visitors to the United States. The NSEERS program directly challenges our country's fundamental principles of fairness and equality and is based on the false assumption that people of a particular religion or nationality pose a greater national security risk and should be subject to profiling. This program harkens back to a dark day in our country's history where innocent people were interned based on their Japanese ancestry.

The NSEERS program was first applied to select visitors at ports of entry and later expanded to certain individuals already living in the United States. Specifically, the domestic portion of NSEERS required certain male visitors from 25 specified countries to register at local immigration offices for fingerprints, photographs and lengthy interrogations. All but one of the 25 specified countries was predominantly Muslim. According to statistics provided by the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, over 80,000 individuals registered under the program and more than 13,000 were placed in removal proceedings. At its height, the program cost over $10 million per year, 1 yet no terrorism convictions resulted from the program?

While the NSEERS program has undergone several changes since it was transferred to the Department in 2003, it still remains on the books today, available for resurrection when our country's national security policies aim to target a new group for discrimination.

In April of 2011, the Department announced that it was delisting the countries subject to registration under NSEERS, essentially suspending the program.3 However, the Department failed to address how the individuals impacted by the program would benefit from this policy shift.

In April of 2012, the Department issued a memorandum on NSEERS addressing this very question.4 The April 2012 memo calls for DHS personnel to determine whether or not an individual's noncompliance with NSEERS was "willfu1."5 Those determined to have willfully failed to comply with NSEERS may continue to face negative immigration consequences. According to the memo, willful noncompliance includes fear of immigration consequences. This reflects a complete lack of understanding of the widespread and palpable fear NSEERS caused as Arabs, Muslims, Middle Easterners, and South Asians saw members of their communities held in overcrowded jails, disappear in the middle of the night, and deported without due process. In addition, the memo places the burden of proving non-willful compliance on the individual, demonstrating a lack of accountability on the part of the Department regarding NSEERS and its
reliance on discriminatory profiling. The memo also indicates that DHS can continue to use information obtained through this discriminatory program for various purposes.

We commend the Department on issuing this memo and making significant steps in addressing the residual impacts of NSEERS. However, we are disappointed by the glaring gaps in the memo and DHS' policy analysis on how to move forward. Specifically, the April 2012 Memo continues to leave the NSEERS infrastructure intact. In addition, the memo fails to address how all individuals impacted by the program will be treated. The memo focuses only on those who failed to comply with NSEERS, leaving unanswered the question of how those who complied with the program but continue to face negative immigration consequences. Third, the memo sets forth a narrow definition of non-willful noncompliance, citing extreme scenarios that will limit the ability for individuals to benefit from the memo. Finally, the memo states that DHS will continue using information obtained through this program.

The Department should revise its policy and the April 2012 memo to ensure that no individuals impacted by the program continue to face negative consequences solely as a result of NSEERS. The Department should also acknowledge how the program violates valued principles of fairness and equality and cease using data acquired through this tainted program. Most importantly, the Department should completely and fully dismantle NSEERS so that it is never resurrected. Notably, the Department's own Office of the Inspector General has called for the full termination
of the program and has classified the data obtained through the program as unreliable.6

We urge the Department to immediately address these concerns about NSEERS and direct the components within DHS to act accordingly as it establishes implementing policies. Consistent with our country's commitment to equal protection under the law, DHS should work to end the last vestiges of NSEERS and ensure that no one in this country is subject to inappropriate profiling or discrimination. We look forward to your prompt response.

Member of Congress

MIKE HONDA Member of Congress
CAPAC Immigration Taskforce Chair

1 See Department of Homeland Security Office of lnspector General, Information Sharing on Foreign Nationals: Border Security
(Redacted), February 2012 available at http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/0IGr 12-39 Feb12.pdf at 10.
2 Doris Meissner and Donald Kerwin,DHS and Immigration:Taking Stock and Correcting Course available at www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/DHS Feb09.pdf.
3 Removing Designated Countries from the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), 76 Fed. Reg. 82, 23830-23831 (Apr. 28, 2011) available at https:ljwww.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/04/28/2011-10305/removing-designated-countries-from-national-security-entry-exit-registration-system-nseers!
4 See Memo on Department of Homeland Security Guidance on Treatment of Individuals Previously Subject to the Reporting and Registration Requirements on the National Security Entry Exit Registration System, April16, 2012 available at Senator Dick Durbin: Opening Statement at the Hearing on Ending Racial Profiling in America, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights (Apr. 2012), available at http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/pdf/12-4-17DurbinStatement.pdf.
5 See id. See also Denyse Sabagh and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, DHS Releases Long-Awaired Memo on Controversial 9/11 Program, May 3, 2012 available at http:l/endnseers.blogspot.com/2012/05/dhs-releases-long­ awaited-memo-on.html.
6 See Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, Information Sharing on Foreign Nationals: Border Security (Redacted), February 2012 available at http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/0IGr 12-39 Febl2.pdf.

Jun 7, 2012

The NSEERS Effect: A Decade of Racial Profiling, Fear and Secrecy

June 7, 2012
Source: Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University

Click HERE to view report.

Law and SIA students document impact of controversial NSEERS program

June 4, 2012
Source: Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University http://law.psu.edu/news/students_document_impact_of_nseers

The impact of a federal government program that targeted non-citizens from mostly Muslim majority countries is documented in a new report The NSEERS Effect: A Decade of Racial Profiling, Fear, and Secrecy developed by the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights on behalf of the Rights Working Group.

"The NSEERS program contained all the features of a bad policy, as it targeted visitors based on their religion, ethnicity, and nationality; caused thousands of men to face detention, deportation, and other immigration consequences; and proved to be ineffective as a counter terroroism tool," said Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Director of the Center. She stressed that reforms recommended in the report need to be implemented in order to help remedy some of the damage caused by the program.

“One of our main goals was to describe the impact a program like this can have on a community,” said Constantin Schreiber who will graduate from Penn State’s School of International Affairs this summer. He worked with Penn State Law student Mohita Anand ’13 doing extensive research on the laws, policies, and statistics related to implementation of NSEERS and interviewing individuals connected directly to the fallout from the program. “When you read about the NSEERS program, you often don’t get a sense of the personal stories…the purpose of our work is, in addition to providing a policy analysis and recommendations, to give people a deeper understanding of what happened to individual lives as a result of NSEERS.”

The report follows earlier work by the Center on the “end” of NSEERS as announced by the Department of Homeland Security last April. Professor Wadhia pointed out that in spite of this announcement, there was no plan for how to resolve countless open issues. “You have people who are still being penalized for either registering or not registering under the NSEERS. Imagine an Iraqi husband of a U.S. citizen wife who has been living and working in the U.S. but is denied a green card based on his marriage because he was afraid to register under NSEERS when he was 17 years old," she said. "The NSEERS program has brought more than a decade of fear and damage to families and communities." The report recommendations include that the government dismantle infrastructure of the program and remove residual penalties resulting from NSEERS.

Schreiber is moving on to a PhD. Program in Education Policy and Evaluation where he will take with him the skills he said he developed while working on this project. “The project helped me develop my communications skills in a professional environment along with my project management skills. This particularly applies to the the interviews we conducted with stakeholders. It really is an analytical project with real-world impact.”

Jun 1, 2012

Letter to Secretary Napolitano re NSEERS

June 1, 2012

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Napolitano:

The undersigned organizations write to express our concerns regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) April 16, 2012 memorandum ("April 2012 Memo") on the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS).1 While our organizations appreciate the initial measures outlined in the memo which may potentially benefit some individuals affected by NSEERS, we remain deeply concerned by its significant limitations.2 Specifically, we are disappointed that it retains the program’s regulatory framework; fails to provide redress for all individuals who continue to face adverse immigration consequences as a result of the program; and lacks information regarding the status of databases created under the program. We urge DHS, in consultation with individuals and organizations with expertise on NSEERS, to issue and implement regulations that terminate the program in its entirety; remove residual penalties associated with NSEERS for all affected individuals; and discontinue the use of data collected through NSEERS by DHS and other law enforcement agencies.

Notably, the April 2012 Memo to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
sets up a framework for relief for certain NSEERS-related cases.3 Specifically, it provides a definition for "willful" and instructs that in cases "where DHS personnel have determined that noncompliance was not willful, DHS should not pursue immigration enforcement action, nor deny any immigration benefit, solely on the basis of the alien's failure to comply with NSEERS."4 However, the memo nevertheless raises numerous concerns, including the fact that it retains the program’s regulatory framework, fails to articulate a policy for individuals who actually did comply with NSEERS, and adopts a potentially vague definition of "willful."5

NSEERS has been widely acknowledged as a counterproductive response to the September 11th attacks and a clear example of racial and religious profiling. The program has been condemned for its ineffectiveness for counterterrorism purposes and its discriminatory nature by both advocacy organizations and members of Congress. In February 2012, even DHS’ own Office of Inspector General called for a full termination of NSEERS as the "database that supports this program is obsolete" and it "does not provide any increase in security."6 Yet, rather than eliminating NSEERS, the April 2012 Memo maintains its core regulatory architecture, raising the possibility that it could be resurrected by DHS in the future. Furthermore, it continues to allow DHS to use information that was obtained through or in connection with the NSEERS program.7

We urge DHS to take additional measures in order to achieve the goal of eliminating the program and its effects on families and community members. Specifically, we urge DHS, in consultation with individuals and organizations with expertise on NSEERS, to issue and implement regulations that:
- Dismantle the regulatory framework of NSEERS in its entirety and instead adopt programs that target individuals based on legitimate and particularized evidence, not identity-based criteria such as race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or nationality
- Remove residual NSEERS penalties, both immigration and criminal, by regulation for all individuals affected by NSEERS and apply such regulations retroactively
- Discontinue the use of data collected through NSEERS by DHS and other law
enforcement agencies for other purposes

Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions or require further information, please contact Sameera Hafiz, Policy Director at Rights Working Group, at shafiz@rightsworkinggroup.org or Priya Murthy, Policy Director at South Asian Americans Leading Together, at priya@saalt.org.


The American Civil Liberties Union American Immigration Lawyers Association American Muslim Voice
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans for Immigrant Justice (formerly Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center) API Chaya
Apna Ghar, Inc.
Arab American Action Network
Arab American Association of New York
Arab American Institute
Asian American Justice Center, a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Law Caucus
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance - DC Chapter
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL) Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Blacks in Law Enforcement of America
Causa Justa :: Just Cause
Center for Constitutional Rights Center for National Security Studies Chhaya CDC
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) Community to Community
Coney Island Avenue Project
The Constitution Project
Council of Peoples Organization
Council on American Islamic Relations
Council on American Islamic Relations - Florida Council on American Islamic Relations - Los Angeles Council on American Islamic Relations - New Jersey Council on American Islamic Relations - St. Louis
Counselors Helping (South) Asians/Indians 
Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR), CUNY School of Law
DRUM - Desis Rising Up and Moving Equality Alliance of San Diego County Families for Freedom
Indo-American Center
Interfaith Coalition on Immigration, Minnesota (IOCM, Inc.) International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination Japanese American Citizens League
Khadijah's Caravan
Laotian American National Alliance, Inc. Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice Lawrence Action Network for Diversity (LAND)
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
Minority Executive Directors Coalition
Muslim Advocates
Muslim Legal Fund of America Muslim Public Affairs Council NAACP
National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
National Immigration Forum
National Network for Arab American Communities National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights NC Immigrant Rights Project
North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA) OCA
Priority Africa Network
Reformed Church of Highland Park
Rights Working Group
Sakhi for South Asian Women
San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) The Sikh Coalition
Sneha, Inc.
South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI) South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian Bar Association of New York
South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) South Asian Network
South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!) Southern Border Communities Coalition
Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition
The Westchester Square Partnership Who is My Neighbor? Inc. (WIMNI) The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance
Cc: John Sandweg, Counselor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary, DHS
Kelly Ryan, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, DHS Francis Cissna, Director of Immigration Policy, DHS
Tamara Kessler, Acting Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, DHS
David Aguilar, Acting Commissioner, CBP Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, USCIS
John Morton, Director, ICE
Cecilia Muñoz, Director, White House Domestic Policy Council
Felicia Escobar, Senior Policy Director for Immigration, White House Domestic Policy
Julie Rodriguez, Associate Director of Latino Affairs and Immigration, White House
Office of Public Engagement

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 As you are aware, NSEERS was established in 2002 by the Department of Justice and resulted in a wide-scale registration program targeting male visitors from countries with Muslim-majority populations. The implementation of NSEERS was controversial from the start because of the discriminatory nature of the program, lack of notice or accurate information about the registration requirements, and resulting immigration consequences. This led to widespread fear and confusion within Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities across the country resulting in many community members not registering or experiencing harsh immigration consequences, regardless of compliance. Though the program has undergone some changes since it was inherited by the DHS in 2003, targeted visitors were subject to NSEERS until April 2011. See American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Center for Immigrants’ Rights, NSEERS: The Consequences of America’s Efforts to Secure Its Borders (March 2009), available at http://www.adc.org/PDF/nseerspaper.pdf; Race Matters Blog, available at http://endnseers.blogspot.com; DRUM - Desis Rising Up and Moving, The Sikh Coalition, UNITED SIKHS, South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), Coney Island Avenue Project, Council of Peoples Organization, and South Asian Americans Leading Together, In Our Words: Narratives of South Asian New Yorkers Affected by Racial and Religious Profiling (March 2012), available at http://www.saalt.org/filestore/Reports/In%20Our%20Own%20Words%20Web%20FINAL.pdf; and Rights Working Group and Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Center for Immigrants’ Rights, The NSEERS Effect: A Decade of Racial Profiling, Fear, and Secrecy (Forthcoming, June 2012).In April 2011, DHS issued a rule (“April 2011 Rule”) stating that the 25 countries would be “delisted” and nationals and citizens from these countries who were previously subject to NSEERS would no longer be required to register. See 76 Fed. Reg. 23830, 23831 (Apr. 28, 2011); available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-28/html/2011-10305.htm. While DHS asserted that the April 2011 Rule was the “end” of NSEERS, this rule did not eliminate the program’s underlying infrastructure and individuals continue to face adverse immigration consequences, including removal and denial of immigration benefits for which they are otherwise eligible. See “Letter to DHS Secretary Regarding Unfinished Work Around NSEERS” (May 17, 2011); available at http://endnseers.blogspot.com/2011/05/letter-to-dhs-secretary-regarding.html.2 See Press Release, “Rights Groups Continue to Call for Dismantling of NSEERS and Criticize Department of Homeland Security’s Refusal toRepudiate This Discriminatory Program” (May 7, 2012); available at http://endnseers.blogspot.com/2012/05/rights-groups-continue-to-call- for.html.3 Memorandum from DHS Deputy Secretary to USCIS, ICE, and CBP, “Department of Homeland Security Guidance on Treatment of Individuals Previously Subject to the Reporting and Registration Requirements of the National Security Entry Exit Registration System” (April 16, 2012); available at https://law.psu.edu/_file/NSEERSMemoPublic.pdf.4 Id. at 4.5 For further analysis of the April 2012 memo, see supra note 2; see also Denyse Sabagh, American Immigration Lawyers Association, “DHS Releases Long-Awaited Memo on Controversial 9/11 Program” (May 3, 2012); available at http://ailaleadershipblog.org/2012/05/03/dhs- releases-long-awaited-memo-on-controversial-911-program/.6 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, “Information Sharing on Foreign Nationals: Border Security (Redacted),OIG-12-39” (February 2012); available at http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/OIGr_12-39_Feb12.pdf.7 In fact, a recent Systems of Records Notice (SORN) issued by DHS demonstrates that NSEERS data is continuing to be “ingested” into the agency’s databases. In the SORN, DHS proposes “to update and expand the categories of individuals, categories of records, routine uses, accessprovisions, and sources of data stored in [the Automated Targeting System] ATS” and states that “ATS maintains copies of key elements ofcertain CBP databases … including: … historical National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS).” See 77 Fed.Reg. 30297 [DocketNo. DHS-2012-0019] (May 22, 2012); available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-05-22/html/2012-12396.htm.