Hello Everybody. This is Cyrus Mehta. Welcome to this week’s edition of immigration matters.
In our previous segment, we stated that media reports indicating the elimination of the Special Registration program were not completely accurate. We further indicated that there were plans to modify the program, but not end it. Our assessment was accurate.
On December 2, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a regulation that would suspend only one aspect of the Special Registration program. It has only suspended the annual re-registration and the 30-day re-registration aspects of the program.
As a background, from late 2002 till the Spring of 2003, noncitizen males from mainly Islamic countries had to report to the DHS if they had entered the country as nonimmigrants by a certain date. Tens of thousands of men registered resulting in many being put into deportation proceedings because of status violations. People who registered then were required to re-register after one year. A similar program was also established to register people who fit certain profiles at the airports. These persons had to re-register within 30 to 40 days of their entry into the US. The new rule suspends only the re-registration aspect of the program if the person registered previously on or after December 2, 2002. However, the rule also states that the DHS would retain discretion to require a person or group of persons to re-register by providing them with 10 days notice.
Furthermore, people who have already registered must report to the DHS each time at certain designated airports before they depart the US. The departure control requirements of people who were registered in the past have not changed. Also, those registered must still comply with the 10-day notification requirement in the event of change of address, employment or school.
The positive news is that the rule would allow a person subject to departure control to apply for an exemption based on frequent travel and other bona fide cases.
The Special Registration program has been severely criticized by immigrant rights advocacy organizations and the press for failing to achieve its objective, namely enhancing this country’s security against terrorist attacks. No one who registered has been charged for any terrorist related crimes to date. It is unlikely that a real terrorist will be willing to comply with the complex procedures set forth in the Special Registration program. Moreover, the Special Registration program profiles people who either arrive or have arrived as nonimmigrants and only applies to males. Since 9/11, we have seen US citizens being charged with terrorism related crimes as well as nationals of other countries not subject to Special Registration. The Special Registration program, instead of gaining the cooperation of immigrants against the war on terrorism, has only alienated immigrant communities as it merely profiles citizens or nationals of countries with Islamic populations.
The new rule, unfortunately, has not completely eliminated the Special Registration program.
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This is Cyrus Mehta wishing you a wonderful weekend. See you again in two weeks.