The subject of a Muslim registry system has been a painful one for American-Muslims throughout the presidential election. After a terrorist attack in Berlin last December, Trump made this remark: “you’ve known my plans all along. And I’ve been proven to be right.” Back in November 2015, Trump told an NBC reporter he would “absolutely” require Muslims to register in a database but according to PRI, “he tried to walk back his comments, tweeting that we need ‘surveillance’ and a ’watch list’ to defeat terrorism” which, as PRI points out, this “hardly came as much relief to those worried about religious freedom or constitutional rights.”
PRI continues, “the possibility that Muslims here — there are more than 3 million people who practice the faith in the United States — could be singled out for special government scrutiny is alarming for many people all over the country. That fear is rooted in very recent history. There’s been a Muslim registry before here, and it tore families apart.”
The programs was called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS which in the wake of 9-11, “required all men between the ages of 16 and 45 from 25 different countries — all of them Muslim-majority nations save North Korea — to present themselves to government officials if they had nonimmigrant visas” (per PRI).
Activists recently petitioned President Obama to officially dismantle the NSEERS program which he did on December 23rd. But, according to PRI, “the Trump administration could easily still revive it. Like most executive decisions, a program like NSEERS does not require Congressional approval. Deepa Iyer, a former civil rights attorney at the Department of Justice and now a senior fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion, said the removal of the program by the Obama administration would at least create a roadblock. Other activists said that if Trump wants to start a similar program, he would now have to own it.”