Aug 19 2002
Implementation of First Phase of Entry-Exit Registration System Set for September 11, 2002
The INS will implement the first phase of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) at selected ports of entry in the U.S. on September 11, 2002. This initial phase will enable the INS to test and evaluate the NSEERS; after an initial 20-day period the system will be implemented at all ports of entry across the United States.
The NSEERS program will match the fingerprints of certain foreign visitors against national databases of known criminals and known terrorists. The INS will choose foreign visitors for this inquiry based on “intelligence criteria reflecting patterns of terrorist organizations’ activities,” according to the Department of Justice. A pilot program conducted earlier this year to identify wanted criminals trying to re-enter the U.S resulted in over 2,000 arrests in a six-month period.
Foreign visitors chosen for scrutiny will also be required to periodically confirm their location of residence and purpose within the U.S. These visitors will also be required to report any time they leave the U.S.
According to the Department of Justice, “U.S. law has long required aliens who stay in the United States for more than 30 days to be registered and fingerprinted.” This law, however, has not been officially practiced for decades. “The NSEERS program will put registration and fingerprinting requirements back in place, along with exit controls.”
Foreign nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria will be required to participate in the NSEERS program. The State Department reserves the right to add to the list any group of nonimmigrant aliens they believe may pose an elevated national security risk.
Attorney General John Ashcroft believes the NSEERS program will enhance the national security of the United States. “The vulnerabilities of our immigration system became starkly clear on September 11th,” Ashcroft said. “This system will expand substantially America’s scrutiny of those foreign visitors who may present an elevated national security risk.”
In the USA PATRIOT Act, Congress required that the Justice Department develop some form of an entry-exit system to strengthen the security of the nation. The NSEERS program, according to the Department of Justice, “is the first step toward the development of a comprehensive entry-exit system applicable to virtually all foreign visitors.”