Sep 21, 2009

Over 40 organizations call for an NSEERS audit

On Thursday September 17, 2009, over 40 organizations sent a letter to the DHS Inspector General calling for an NSEERS audit. Below is ADC's press release issued regarding the letter:

Washington, DC | September 17, 2009 | | Today, more than 40 organizations, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), submitted a letter to Richard L. Skinner, US Department of Homeland Security Inspector General (DHS IG), requesting an audit of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). The letter calls for DHS IG to make findings on the effectiveness of NSEERS, the costs incurred with implementing the program, the relationship between NSEERS and the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, the use of NSEERS in Operation Frontline , the impact of NSEERS non-compliance on individuals and families, and the adequacy of notice surrounding the program.

The impact of NSEERS on the Arab-American, South Asian-American and Muslim-American communities endures. As documented in the report issued by ADC and the Center for Immigrants’ Rights at Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, "NSEERS: The Consequences of America's efforts to Secure Its Borders." (March, 2009) , “[w]ell-intentioned individuals who failed to comply with NSEERS due to a lack of knowledge or fear have been denied “adjustment of status” (green cards), and in some cases have been placed in removal proceedings under the premise that they “willfully” failed to register. This scenario has torn apart families because of the real implications of having a parent or spouse without a legal status.”

ADC National Executive Director Kareem Shora, who earlier this year was sworn in as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) said, “Using immigration law as a counterterrorism tool with racial profiling tactics has failed in the past, and continues to fail,” said Shora, “the perceived injustice of singling out people based on national origin and penalizing them for their cooperation with a government program may have resulted in significant harm to the relationship of trust between law enforcement and the Arab and Muslim American and immigrant communities—a relationship that is vital to the national security of the United States. Nearly 14,000 men who complied with call-in registration were placed in removal proceedings. If a goal of special registration was to track possible terrorists, deporting those who complied with the program undermines this aim, especially since it may reduce future compliance.”

The letter to the DHS IG was signed by a wide range of local, state and national organizations, including community-based groups, faith-based organizations, civil and human rights groups, coalition groups, and immigration advocacy groups.