Although DHS finally ended the NSEERS registration program last year, it recently issued guidance on the limited circumstances under which negative immigration consequences, such as a denial of a benefit, finding of inadmissibility, or commencement of removal proceedings, will result from a foreign national’s prior failure to comply with NSEERS requirements. NSEERS, or the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, was a special registration process for male foreign nationals from certain countries who were over the age of 16 and who entered the U.S. as nonimmigrants prior to September 10, 2001. Implemented in 2002 in the wake of the September 11 attacks, it sought to record the arrival and departure of individuals mostly from Middle Eastern countries. The program failed as a counterterrorism policy and was discriminatory and relied on racial profiling. While in its latest memo DHS clarifies that only noncompliance, in and of itself, is not a sufficient basis for such consequences to adhere, DHS has not completely eliminated the lingering consequences of NSEERS: a determination of a willful NSEERS violations may still apply and have negative immigration consequences. We think this is wrong. DHS should, once and for all, remove the residual penalties associated with NSEERS.
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