Since the registry, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), has been dormant since 2011, the move seems intended to make it more difficult for President-elect Donald Trump to reinstate it when he takes office, as he has suggested he may do.
Trump on Wednesday suggested the recent deadly attack at a Christmas market in Berlin and the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey proved that he had been “one hundred percent” correct about the threat of terrorism.
“You know my plans,” he told reporters when asked if recent attacks have prompted him to revisit his past proposals to create registry for Muslims and ban Muslim immigrants from the United States.
A spokesperson later told the Times that the President-elect was referring to his more recent call to bar immigrants from countries “with a history of terrorism.”
That was the purpose of NSEERS, a program created after the 9/11 attacks that required special registration for immigrants arriving from 25 countries, most of them majority-Muslim. The Department of Homeland Security put an end to the program in 2011 after it failed to lead to the conviction of a single terrorist and civil rights groups alleged that it unfairly targeted Muslims.
Kris Kobach, Kansas' secretary of state and an advisor to Trump who helped devise NSEERS during George W. Bush’s administration, has nevertheless pressed the President-elect to resurrect the program.
On Thursday, the DHS submitted a rule change to dismantle the legal framework that supported the program.
A spokesperson for the DHS told the Times that the program was “redundant, inefficient and provided no increase in security,” adding that automated systems that collect and store biometric data and travel itineraries from people entering the U.S. are a far more efficient means of flagging certain passengers for additional screening.