The Obama administration has officially stopped the use of a controversial system of registration that was focused on capturing details of male immigrants from largely Islamic countries. In a statement, The Department of Homeland Security said that the federal government would no longer use the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System with immediate effect.
The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System was introduced about a year following the September 11th attacks. Because it was presented as one of the measures to counter an emerging terrorist threat at the time, the new registration system required that all boys and men immigrants arriving from predominantly Islamic countries register with the federal government.
The system captured all the personal details of the immigrants for purposes of national security. Besides, immigrants were required to notify the federal government whenever they wished to change their addresses.
The outgoing administration pointed out that the main reason as to why it was formally abandoning the system is that the system was outdated. It is instructive to note that the Obama administration abandoned using the system back in 2011. According to the recent statement announcing the formal end of the system, the department acknowledged that the system was no longer useful since all the data that is was capturing could easily be captured by highly advanced electronic systems.
The department also noted that the program no longer serves an important function in helping to protect the country from the threat of terrorism in the current times. By saying so, the department was making reference to the rapid evolution that the threat of international terrorism has been undergoing in the recent past.
The emergence of new threats and changes in the nature of strategies that the federal government is using to combat terrorism appear to be some of the main factors that led the federal government to abandon the plan in the first place before making a formal announcement.
But with the new administration set to take over early next year, there appears to be uncertainty regarding the fate of the registry. The President-elect has been vowing to use tight immigration policies like one of the most effective ways to counter the threat of terrorism. One of his most controversial stands concerns the proposal to ban immigrants from a list of countries that he deems as having close ties to terrorist activities.
Activists have been arguing that the use of the registry amounts to profiling people by using their race and religion. Similarly, activists have been warning that if the new administration implements some of the radical anti-immigration proposals, it may end up creating more problems at home than dealing with the problem of global terrorism.
But what may worry many people is that the new administration is set on reviving the registry. Kris Kobach, a special advisor to the president-elect on immigration issues during the campaigns, has said that one of the objectives of the new administration will be to resort to using the database of immigrants from countries that the new administration thinks have links to terrorism.
Similarly, the recent terror attack in Berlin, which has been linked to an immigrant, is likely to embolden the resolution of the new administration to start implementing controversial anti-immigration policies, one of them being reviving the system that the outgoing Obama administration has just killed.