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US Ends Foreigner Registration Program
AP/Yahoo ^ | 12-01-2003 | Suzanne Gamboa

Posted on 12/01/2003 3:26:50 PM PST by blam

U.S. Ends Foreigner Registration Program

By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The government is scrapping a rule imposed after the Sept. 11 attacks that required men and boys from countries with suspected links to terrorism to register multiple times with U.S. officials.

The rule forced tens of thousands of Middle Easterners and others visiting America to provide personal information to government officials.

Asa Hutchinson, the Homeland Security Department's undersecretary for border and transportation security, said a new registration system that will apply to more foreigners will be in place next month, making the current program unnecessary.

The program will end Tuesday when a notice is published in the Federal Register. Hutchinson said it could be used again if there is another terrorist attack linked to a foreign country.

Critics who contend the rule infringed on the rights of law-abiding citizens welcomed its end. But they tempered their response with warnings that the requirement already had caused damage in Arab and Muslim communities and that the government still has rules in place that discriminate against those groups.

"There's more that would have to be done to right this wrong, but it is one step toward making the program less discriminatory in the future," said Tim Edgar, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel.

The rule is part of a program known as National Security Entry Exit Registration System, or NSEERS. It established a national registry for foreign visitors from 25 mainly Middle Eastern countries.

People from those nations were fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed by U.S. immigration officials. They had to re-register with the government after being in the country for 30 days and again after one year. A total of 83,519 people already in the United States complied with the order.

Nearly 14,000 people with suspected immigration violations were identified through NSEERS, and 2,870 were detained. However, just 23 remain in custody, the government says.

People from the 25 countries still will be required to register when they enter the country and must check in at immigration offices at specific airports when they leave.

"The Department of Homeland Security will utilize a more tailored system that is individual-specific rather than the broad categories by geography," Hutchinson said.

He said the decision to terminate the program was not influenced by harsh criticism from advocacy groups.

Hutchinson said it was made unnecessary by other programs such as a foreign student tracking system that began operating in August and the planned Jan. 5 launch of US-VISIT, which will digitally photograph and fingerprint millions of people who visit the United States each year on tourist, business and student visas.

Azhar Azeez, who sits on the board of directors of the Counsel on American Islamic Relations in Dallas, predicted the withdrawal of the re-registration rule could provide momentum for the end of other post-Sept. 11 government policies.

"There's a very huge opposition across the country of the Patriot Act too, so this whole thing is picking up speed and that's a good thing, because in my personal opinion, the Patriot Act is the most unpatriotic act this country has ever written," Azeez said.

The Patriot Act gave government broader surveillance authority, such as giving it more leeway to use wiretaps and monitor e-mail.


Associated Press Writer Penny Cockerell in Dallas contributed to this report

TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: aliens; borders; dhs; ends; foreigner; nseers; program; registration; us; usvisit
"had caused damage in Arab and Muslim communities"

Maybe they will get mad and leave , huh?

1 posted on 12/01/2003 3:26:50 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
"Critics who contend the rule infringed on the rights of law-abiding citizens welcomed its end. But they tempered their response with warnings that the requirement already had caused damage in Arab and Muslim communities and that the government still has rules in place that discriminate against those groups."

Completely unsubstantiated claim.

2 posted on 12/01/2003 3:36:16 PM PST by shamusotoole
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To: blam
Many of the visitors and emigres travel to the triple border region where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. This region, often described as a lawless area, is nicknamed by some intelligence station agents as "The Muslim Triangle meeting zone."

Intelligence experts have been warning since the late 1990s they had noticed a tendency among Islamic terrorists to operate from Paraguay, a landlocked country in the heart of South America, with a territory slightly smaller than California, and with geographic extremes perfect for hiding illegal activities. Information surrounding such activities arrived in the U.S. before Sept. 11, 2001, but failed to sound any alarms.

Even today, reports G2 Bulletin, dealing seriously with Islamic terrorism in Latin America is not considered to be of high importance.

Muslims have also found their way into Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil and other neighboring countries, and authorities claim most Muslims crystallize into small community clusters, centering mainly in large cities, close to mosques, prayer locations or religious Quran schools known as madrassas. One of the best examples to this trend is the Maicao district, where some 70 percent of all small- and medium-sized businesses belong to Muslims mainly of Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian origin.

A Colombian official told G2 Bulletin: "A fair part of our Muslim community are second- and third-generation immigrants, but the problems arise from recent immigrants who import new jihadi philosophies. These people are also active in Islamic missionary work converting the poor and destitute with promises of a better life under Islam."

Miguel Angel Toma of the Argentinean intelligence service SIDE last year, and again early this year, visited a number of regional capitals and then traveled also to Washington, Berlin, London and Paris. The purpose of his meetings was to discuss with his counterparts the growing danger, and the urgent need to be aware of, Islamic terrorism known as "Terrorists Muselmanus."

Toma voiced his warning the difficult economic situation in the continent, galloping inflation, and an increase of corruption and organized crime, are creating "a dangerous greenhouse where poisonous roots are developing."

The Argentineans expressed their caution by emphasizing the danger is not only local. They reflected on the anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli deadly terror attacks in 1992 and 1994 in Buenos Aires, warning similar events are imminent elsewhere. The Argentineans now claim the attacks against the Jewish Community Center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires are linked to the Iranian intelligence and their Hezbollah proxy.

These terrorists are organized in active cells around the country with safe houses in neighboring Paraguay. An Argentinean document seen by G2 Bulletin describes part of the drug-smuggling trail, as well as that of weapons and people. These elaborate trails run through a web of border crossings pointing also to the complex cooperation between various "smuggling experts." These belong to jihadi organizations such as al-Qaida, joining forces with local drug lords, developing and oiling their smuggling mechanism all the way to Mexico aiming ultimately to hit the U.S.

The Argentinean intelligence service assessment, privy among others, to European and Middle Eastern agencies, has reached a significant and grave conclusion: They claim that since 9/11, and the partial success in the war against terrorism, mainly in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Central Asia, the jihadi pendulum is tilting more and more toward South America. The reason terrorist cells in Paraguay, whether active or dormant, can continue to grow and flourish, is the fact this nation is considered to be the most corrupt in South America.

The nature of law and order, or rather lawlessness and disorder in Paraguay, enabled operatives of such terrorist groups as al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas to feel safe, even in the heart of Asuncion. These organizations, and probably more, turned Paraguay into a logistical base.

As one local journalist told G2 Bulletin: "It's easy. At this stage our country is not engulfed in a civil war or guerrilla campaign and, therefore, security forces are more prone to financial kickbacks."

A Mossad operative talking to G2 Bulletin under the condition of anonymity said his agency is aware of numerous cases in which nothing was done to interfere with jihadi activity, mainly due to lucrative businesses between them and the police, accompanied with the motto, "Now you see me now you don't."

A German agent of the Bundes Nachrichten Dienst - Federal Information Service who recently visited a number of Latin American capitals has evaluated the situation in the triple border area as "a ticking time bomb." He believes the growing pressure exercised on terrorists in Europe, Asia and North America will bring many of them to move their organizational apparatus to countries such as Paraguay.

A source from the Arab community in Asuncion was quoted by a Middle Eastern diplomat as saying: "On the Brazilian border you can buy everything, from a passport to an army general. Most of all you don't have to be over concerned with Mossad presence."

The same source described two meetings in Asuncion, which took place between local businessmen, mainly of Arab descent, with visitors from Europe and Asia, including Pakistan and Malaysia. The meetings took place in Hotel Westphalia, some eight kilometers from the Pettirossi Silvio Airport and in the apartment hotel Zapihir, close to the capital's downtown. Those attending the meeting in the downtown area included visitors from Argentina and at least one Dutch citizen suspected to be a Muslim convert and an al-Qaida operative.

CIA and MI5 agents, who according to the Asuncion police were "hovering over the hotel districts," were surprised to discover Muslim Paraguayans and some of their guests visiting the large Cathedral Blas San de Dia.

Apparently the alleged terrorists discussed organizational matters while inside the cathedral, hoping to appear as regular worshippers, undisturbed by intelligence agents. A similar practice was reported from other Latin American cities where many suspects of jihad ideologies meet in churches and cathedrals presenting themselves as members of the Christian community. The Israeli experience shows that in the past Arab intelligence services used the disguise of religious Jews to penetrate the Jewish community in Argentina and from there arriving in Israel as "bona fide" immigrants.

At this stage the growing danger is that of militant Islam penetrating Mexico, a country with an increasing Muslim community, including Muslim converts. Some of them have ties to the Mexican community and to illegal immigrants' smugglers operating in American states bordering Mexico, especially those with connections in the greater Los Angeles area and other major cities.

Intelligence experts now assume the so-called jihadi spider web is moving north fast from Paraguay. It is just a question of time before terrorists use, and quite possibly already have used, the loosely guarded American-Mexican border. It should come as no surprise when, sometime in the not-too-far future, the U.S. will be attacked in a deadly way. Presently this danger, due to the porous southern border, enables easy penetration of the country described by one official as "the largest Swiss cheese in the world."

Experienced anti-terror experts told G2 Bulletin the Mexican border is the Achilles heel of the Department of Homeland Security.

3 posted on 12/01/2003 5:56:49 PM PST by MrFreedom
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To: blam
"Asa Hutchinson, the Homeland Security Department's undersecretary for border and transportation security, said a new registration system that will apply to more foreigners will be in place next month, making the current program unnecessary."

wait a minute - this indicates that Muslims will STILL have to be registered - the ONLY difference between the two programs is that the registry will be EXPANDED to Non-Muslim countrie.
4 posted on 12/01/2003 6:17:04 PM PST by Pubbie (Go Ross! Go! - Ross "The Boss" Perot In '04!)
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To: Pubbie
It just means that we're going to fingerprint and register Icelandic and Japanese grandmothers at the airport upon arrival, along with muslim men.

What the government is ending are the internal registrations, where muslim male alins have to periodically check in.

I guess we are to be comforted by the fact that they reserve the option to restart the program in the event muslims again murder a few thousand Americans.

As far as I'm concerned, there shouldn't have been an alien muslims allowed to remain in the USA after 9-11-01, but what the heck, let them in to kill us, fewer will be offended that way.

5 posted on 12/01/2003 9:57:30 PM PST by dagnabbit (Stop immigrating Islam. Don't let France happen to America.)
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To: blam
Thanks alot for the protection, Jorge. With a terrorist camp in Paraguay, I guess you'll keep that southern border wide open as well.
6 posted on 12/01/2003 9:59:33 PM PST by ETERNAL WARMING
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To: blam
Homeland Security Notice:

President Bush has determined that unidentified people from
terrorist nations have the right to wander at will around the
U.S.. The Department of Homeland Security has determined
that if you follow these simple rules, you should be reasonably
safe from terrorist assaults:

1. If you work in a high rise, find another job.
2. If you commute by subway or bus, buy a car.
3. Stay away from malls, shop online.
4. Watch sporting events on TV, stay away from stadiums.
5. Don't fly on commercial aircraft.

7 posted on 12/02/2003 3:14:45 AM PST by putupon (Great Society®;Compassionate Conservatism®,;HillaryCare®:: Equality in Misery, Fellow Travelers .)
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