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LETTER Security issues
2017-01-04

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TRUST Collective-Chicago—Chicago's emerging community and intersectional voice for justice, peace, support, creativity and collaboration—adamantly condemns all forms of targeted hatred toward American Muslims. We are Latinx, Muslim, and/or LGBTQ+ community leaders, "post-Orlando." We add our voice to the 300+ U.S. Muslim leaders who penned an open letter to the president-elect repudiating a Muslim Registry.

Most recently, there have been talks about establishing a Muslim Registry. This was a part of the president-elect's campaign, "extreme vetting," that has resurfaced. The president-elect has offered policy measures and practices that threaten the civil liberties of U.S. Muslims, so such concerns about governmental programs being Islamophobic appear to be warranted, if not at least, considered.

Specifically, our concern lies with the dormant NSEERS ( National Security Entry-Exit Registration System ) program being reinstated. One of the developers of NSEERS—Kansas' secretary of state and a member of the president-elect's transition team in the running for U.S. attorney general—has advised that NSEERS be reinstated.

NSEERS, a George W. Bush-spurred Sept. 11, 2001 initiative, was suspended in 2011 by the Department of Homeland Security, who found it to be redundant and ineffective at increasing national security. Several other human rights organizations condemned the program for racial and religious profiling. The consequences of a registry extend far beyond one's name on a list: they can severely and negatively alter families' basic freedoms.

"The special registration set me back tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, singling me out for doing absolutely nothing wrong. The idea that others have to go through something similar is upsetting and unfair," according to a Muslim who legally immigrated to the United States and was singled out by the NSEERS program because of his country of origin. ( He prefers to remain anonymous. )

We believe any efforts to reinstate NSEERS largely undermines civil liberties protected under Constitutional law. It also bears similarities to historical gross atrocities committed by the United States government. Furthermore, we note its inadequacies in enhancing national security. Lastly, we feel it is a misuse of governmental funds that should be allocated toward advancement of U.S. interests, namely justice, liberty and effective national security for all.

Sufyan Sohel, Esq.—deputy director and counsel of CAIR Chicago as well as a Trust Collective member—has said, "We are living in a reality where talks of Muslim registries and internment is mainstream. Our community is frightened; hate crimes against Muslim-Americans continue to increase. Rather than bring the country together, the rhetoric used by the president-elect, and those he is bringing into his administration, is increasing the divide amongst the American people and normalizing discriminatory and hateful speech and actions against the Muslim community."

As we recently embarked upon the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks on and the subsequent internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans, we caution our elected officials in repeating history by echoing the same rhetoric in demonizing a group based on its racial, religious or sexual identity backgrounds.

The TRUST Collective's mission is to bridge, respect, support and foster relationships across the Chicago area toward building a unified front and reducing targeted violence and discrimination.

Rachel L. Tillman, LCPC

Center on Halsted

Chicago


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