Office of Inspector General at DHS to Audit NSEERS at the Request of ADC and Other Major Organizations

Press Release: Office of Inspector General at DHS to Audit NSEERS at the Request of ADC and Other Major Organizations

Washington, DC | November 19, 2009 | | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is pleased to announce that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be conducting an audit reviewing the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) in early January 2010.   Implemented in the wake of September 11, 2001, NSEERS required non-immigrants from predominantly Arab and Muslim Countries to register at ports of entry and local immigration offices and complete fingerprints, photographs and lengthy questioning.  Earlier this year, ADC successfully organized more than 40 local, state and national organizations to sign a letter calling for the OIG to audit NSEERS. The announcement of the audit was made yesterday at a meeting between the OIG and the DHS-Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Committee, a working group of NGOs of which ADC is a member.

ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, “We welcome and appreciate the OIG for reviewing NSEERS. This targeted program has been morally and socially troubling, and has been ineffective in our Nation’s counterterrorism efforts. ADC is also grateful to the organizations and individuals who worked in coalition with us.”

ADC and the Center for Immigrants’ Rights at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law issued a report earlier this year on NSEERS. The report highlights the continuing impact of the NSEERS program on the registrants and their respective Arab-American, Muslim-American and South Asian-American families. Moreover, the report articulates the policy arguments for why the Obama Administration should terminate the NSEERS program, and makes related recommendations.

ADC Legal Advisor Fahed Al-Rawaf and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights at Penn State Dickinson School of Law are also co-hosting “Race Matters:,” a blog dedicated to educating the public and government about NSEERS by documenting the damaging impact of NSEERS (and related programs) on individuals, public policy, and due process.  Today’s commentary on the blog illustrates the haphazard application of late registration and highlights the high monetary and human costs of a poorly conceived and implemented program.

The OIG audit will indeed be a great opportunity to analyze these burdensome costs and the impact that this program has had. The Obama Administration should also terminate NSEERS and provide relief for well-intentioned individuals impacted by the program. The audit by the OIG is long overdue, but it is now a most welcome step moving forward.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.

The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs. 

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