The Cable

Obama to Dismantle Muslim and Arab Tracking System, But Trump Undeterred

Obama may dismantle the surveillance system, but Trump seems poised to put a new one in its place.

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On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security said it would dismantle what is left of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, a Bush-era surveillance system used to track Arabs and Muslims in and across America.

In 2011, the DHS and FBI concluded that the system was not only discriminatory, but also that it did not work, and so NSEERS fell by the wayside, though it still exists. Now the Obama administration is trying to kill it dead, so that, as of Friday, the system that helped put about 14,000 people — without any proven terror ties — in deportation proceedings will no longer be available to his successor.

But Trump may well be looking to put something similar in its place.

The DHS announcement came just a day after Trump, speaking to reporters in Palm Beach, Fla., said, when asked in the attacks on a Berlin Christmas market would alter his proposed Muslim ban or registry, said, “You know my plans. All along, I’ve been proven to be right, 100 percent correct.”

Trump spokesperson Jason Miller reiterated on Thursday, “President-elect Trump has been clear that we will suspend admission of those from countries with high terrorism rates and apply a strict vetting procedure for those seeking entry in order to protect American lives,” acknowledging that this “might upset those with their heads stuck in the politically correct sand.”

Miller emphasized that security was Trump’s key issue on the campaign trail, and promised  border security announcements in coming days. The Trump national security team, he said, will review potential executive actions, and put together a plan for the first 100 days.

Photo credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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