How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The end of NSEERS, one of the most contentious post-9/11 national security programs

Photo by Timothy Valentine/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Migration Policy Institute has published a brief history and analysis of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, known as NSEERS, which was terminated in recent weeks by Homeland Security.

Implemented after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it was one of the most controversial national security programs established during that time. The idea was to collect information, fingerprints, and photographs of certain individuals entering and living in the United States, and to monitor their whereabouts. Its primary focus was on men from Muslim-majority countries.

Most contested by its critics was a "special registration" provision that required non-citizens already present in the United States to report to immigration officials for questioning. While this portion of NSEERS was suspended at the end of 2003, the rest of the program remained in effect until its termination was announced at end of April. From the MPI paper:

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American Muslim, or Muslim American?

Photo by NewMediaNormaRae/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Participants in last year's annual Muslim Day parade in New York, September 26, 2010

In the United States, a generation of young Muslims has grown up in the shadow of the September 11, 2001 attacks, among them KPCC intern Yasmin Nouh. Part of the discussion she has been privy to during these years is how Muslims, whose patriotism has been under scrutiny since, should identify themselves: as American Muslims, or as Muslim Americans?

Nouh examines arguments for both ways of self-identifying in this guest post, her second for Multi-American.

Just shy of a decade ago, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden opened a chapter in American history that has been fraught with widespread misunderstanding of Islam and Muslims.

Muslims, particularly in the United States and Europe, were asked to condemn extremism and to prove that they were patriotic to their respective countries. Amid the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment, one question became the norm to ask: Are you a Muslim or an American? Which one comes first?

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'An unpardonable slander:' The controversy over the use of 'Geronimo' in bin Laden operation


Multi-American's sister blog DCentric has been posting updates on the controversy surrounding the use of the name "Geronimo" as code for the U.S. military raid that killed Osama bin Laden last weekend in Pakistan.

Native Americans have taken offense to the military's tying together of the notorious terrorist with the 19th century Apache leader and warrior, to the degree that after bin Laden was killed, the team involved in the raid sent out the transmission “Geronimo EKIA,” for "Geronimo, Enemy Killed in Action."

Yesterday, Geronimo's great-grandson Harlyn Geronimo submitted testimony to the Senate Commission on Indian Affairs for a hearing on racist stereotypes of Native Americans. He demanded an apology from the Obama administration and a "full explanation of how this disgraceful use of my great grandfather’s name occurred." DCentric posted more of his testimony, including this excerpt:

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Immigration and the bin Laden effect: More on the changes since 9/11

Photo by The Pope/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A post on Monday outlined a few of the direct and indirect ways in which the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden changed the nation's immigration landscape. Legislative reaction to the attacks propelled legal and policy changes that led to tightened borders and beefed up immigration enforcement as national security took center stage. Among these changes was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in early 2003.

In the days since, there have been other takes on immigration and the bin Laden effect. Today in a post in ColorLines, Seth Freed Wessler wrote about DHS's National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS, a program whose recent end has been applauded by Muslim groups:

Muslims in the U.S. became the most ominous threat, by policy. The Department of Homeland Security created the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), commonly called “Special Registration,” which functioned as a deportation net specifically for Muslims. As Colorlines’ Channing Kennedy wrote in April:

Initiated in September 2002, NSEERS functioned like Arizona’s SB 1070, with working-class Muslims as the target. Its first phase required all non-citizen male residents, ages 16 to 65, from a list of “suspect” nations, to register at INS offices. Thousands of families went out of their way to comply with the law, thinking it would be part of the government-sponsored pathways to citizenship that they were already participating in. Instead, in July 2003, the Washington Post reported it as the deportation of “the largest number of visitors from Middle Eastern and other Muslim countries in U.S. history—more than 13,000 of the nearly 83,000 men older than 16 who complied with the registration program by various deadlines between last September and April.”

Last week, the federal government officially ended the NSEERS program.

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A view from Little Arabia (Video)

KPCC staff videographer Grant Slater caught up with blogger Rashad Al-Dabbagh of the Happy Arab News Service yesterday in Anaheim's Little Arabia, where Al-Dabbagh was at a restaurant when he first heard news of Osama bin Laden's death in Pakistan. Now, he said, "with the death of Osama bin Laden, the person who symbolized terror, we should move forward."

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