Politico reports: The day after Donald Trump won the White House last week, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote on Twitter that if the president-elect attempts “to implement his unconstitutional campaign promises, we’ll see him in court.”
But when it comes to the immigrant registration program that would target Muslims entering the United States — outlined Wednesday by an adviser to Trump’s transition team — three constitutional lawyers say the ACLU won’t have much of a shot before a judge.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, known for his hard-line stance on immigration, told Reuters in a story published Wednesday that he has been in regular contact with Trump’s immigration advisers and that the president-elect’s team is considering a system modeled after a controversial one implemented in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It fulfills Trump’s promise of “extreme vetting” for immigrants from countries affected by terrorism, a threshold he has yet to flesh out more fully.
That program, labeled the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, required those entering the U.S. from a list of certain countries — all but one predominantly Muslim — to register when they arrived in the U.S., undergo more thorough interrogation and be fingerprinted. The system, referred to by the acronym NSEERS, was criticized by civil rights groups for targeting a religious group and was phased out in 2011 because it was found to be redundant with other immigration systems.
Robert McCaw, director of government affairs for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said a reinstitution of NSEERS would be akin to “just turning back the clock.” CAIR will lobby heavily against the system as not only discriminatory but also ineffective, McCaw said, if it ends up being proposed by the Trump administration.
He also accused Kobach, an architect of the original NSEERS program when he was with the Justice Department under the George W. Bush administration, of having “a long ax to grind with the Muslim community.”
“NSEERS and registries like it are totally ineffective and burdensome and they’re perceived by Muslims and other minorities as just being a massive profiling campaign that, in the past, targeted Muslim travelers solely based on their religion and ethnicity,” he said. “When every country on that list happens to be a majority-Muslim country, it is religious profiling. Because there are threats from other nations and other communities and groups that don’t make it on NSEERS.”
But a program like NSEERS would likely pass constitutional muster before a judge, multiple experts said, in part because it already has. The system was never struck down by a court in the nearly nine years it was in place. [Continue reading…]