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Thread: Senate Votes to Halt INS Registration Program

  1. #1
    Guest
    By Edward Walsh
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, January 25, 2003; Page A11


    The massive appropriations bill approved by the Senate late Thursday includes a little-noticed amendment that would cut off funding for a Justice Department program that requires male immigrants from two dozen predominantly Muslim countries to register and be fingerprinted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

    The main purpose of the amendment was to restore funding for a congressionally mandated program that by 2005 is designed to provide information on the identity of all visitors to the United States and track when they enter and leave the country.

    But the amendment also included language that bans the use of any of the money for the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), a program targeted at male temporary visitors from countries the government considers to be terrorist harbors.

    Under the NSEERS program, thousands of men older than 16 have been fingerprinted and questioned by INS agents, causing widespread confusion and apprehension among Muslims across the country. Thousands lined up at INS offices to meet a series of deadlines. More than 1,200 men who were found to be in violation of immigration laws were detained -- most of them briefly -- and face deportation hearings.

    The confusion and delays prompted the government to give visitors from 18 nations another chance to register. The program applies to male immigrants from 24 predominantly Muslim countries and North Korea.

    The House version of the Senate's more than $390 billion spending measure would not cut off funding for the registration program, and it is not clear whether the Senate ban will survive negotiations with the House on a final version of the legislation. Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman, said yesterday that the Bush administration will work to keep NSEERS in place.

    "We are committed to the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System, which has already proven to have been a success in apprehending persons who would have presented a severe risk to the American people," Corallo said. He said the system has allowed law enforcement authorities to apprehend 330 "known criminals" and three "known terrorists."

    Since last October, the INS also has been fingerprinting and questioning male immigrants from countries on the NSEERS list at selected ports of entry to the United States. The Senate spending ban, which would apply to "any expenses relating to NSEERS" apparently would cut off funds for that effort and the more controversial registration program, which began late last year.

    The Senate amendment also would require Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to provide Congress with documents and other information on the creation and operation of NSEERS, and provide an assessment of the program's effectiveness. Corallo said the Justice Department "will work with Congress and answer all of their questions and concerns."

    The amendment to restore $165 million for the larger tracking system, which had been cut from the bill by Senate appropriators, was offered on the Senate floor by Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, both Arizona Republicans, and was adopted by voice vote. In their brief remarks on the floor, neither mentioned the provision cutting off funding for the NSEERS program. The Bush administration had requested $16.8 million to fund the program for the current fiscal year.

    Congressional sources said the NSEERS funding cutoff was included in the amendment at the request of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). James Manley, a Kennedy spokesman, said the amendment "cuts funding until Congress has the information it needs to assess whether this is the most effective use of tax dollars in the war on terrorism."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2003Jan24.html

    Lets hope the House of Representative also stop the funding.

  2. #2
    Guest
    By Edward Walsh
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, January 25, 2003; Page A11


    The massive appropriations bill approved by the Senate late Thursday includes a little-noticed amendment that would cut off funding for a Justice Department program that requires male immigrants from two dozen predominantly Muslim countries to register and be fingerprinted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

    The main purpose of the amendment was to restore funding for a congressionally mandated program that by 2005 is designed to provide information on the identity of all visitors to the United States and track when they enter and leave the country.

    But the amendment also included language that bans the use of any of the money for the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), a program targeted at male temporary visitors from countries the government considers to be terrorist harbors.

    Under the NSEERS program, thousands of men older than 16 have been fingerprinted and questioned by INS agents, causing widespread confusion and apprehension among Muslims across the country. Thousands lined up at INS offices to meet a series of deadlines. More than 1,200 men who were found to be in violation of immigration laws were detained -- most of them briefly -- and face deportation hearings.

    The confusion and delays prompted the government to give visitors from 18 nations another chance to register. The program applies to male immigrants from 24 predominantly Muslim countries and North Korea.

    The House version of the Senate's more than $390 billion spending measure would not cut off funding for the registration program, and it is not clear whether the Senate ban will survive negotiations with the House on a final version of the legislation. Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman, said yesterday that the Bush administration will work to keep NSEERS in place.

    "We are committed to the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System, which has already proven to have been a success in apprehending persons who would have presented a severe risk to the American people," Corallo said. He said the system has allowed law enforcement authorities to apprehend 330 "known criminals" and three "known terrorists."

    Since last October, the INS also has been fingerprinting and questioning male immigrants from countries on the NSEERS list at selected ports of entry to the United States. The Senate spending ban, which would apply to "any expenses relating to NSEERS" apparently would cut off funds for that effort and the more controversial registration program, which began late last year.

    The Senate amendment also would require Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to provide Congress with documents and other information on the creation and operation of NSEERS, and provide an assessment of the program's effectiveness. Corallo said the Justice Department "will work with Congress and answer all of their questions and concerns."

    The amendment to restore $165 million for the larger tracking system, which had been cut from the bill by Senate appropriators, was offered on the Senate floor by Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, both Arizona Republicans, and was adopted by voice vote. In their brief remarks on the floor, neither mentioned the provision cutting off funding for the NSEERS program. The Bush administration had requested $16.8 million to fund the program for the current fiscal year.

    Congressional sources said the NSEERS funding cutoff was included in the amendment at the request of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). James Manley, a Kennedy spokesman, said the amendment "cuts funding until Congress has the information it needs to assess whether this is the most effective use of tax dollars in the war on terrorism."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2003Jan24.html

    Lets hope the House of Representative also stop the funding.

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