ACLU-NJ Offers Community Education Forums and Legal Clinics on the INS Special Registration Program

In November 2002, the Department of Justice began implementation of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), through the "Special Registration" program, which requires that male citizens-sixteen and older-from designated countries who entered the United States on non-immigrant visas before specified dates register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service before certain deadlines. The registrants are fingerprinted, digitally photographed, asked to present documentation corroborating their place of residence and employment, and asked numerous questions regarding their background, their family, their associations and even their religious beliefs and political views. They must return to the INS on a yearly basis, as long as they remain in the United States, and may only leave the country through designated ports.

Currently, nationals of 25 designated countries are subject to this Special Registration Program. On January 10, 2003, the ACLU-NJ and a number of other immigrant rights groups and community-based organizations held a press conference before the federal building in Newark, NJ, where we issued a joint statement and voiced our opposition to this ill-conceived, discriminatory and poorly implemented program.

The ACLU-NJ, in conjunction with the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program and other community-based organizations have organized community education forums and legal clinics regarding the INS Special Registration Program. Some of these forums have been held in Teaneck and Jersey City. At this particular time, in light of the upcoming deadlines for Special Registration-March 21, 2003 for male nationals of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and April 25, 2003 for those of Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia and Kuwait-we will to continue to educate the community about the program, its requirements, and the consequences of failing to register. Anyone who has an interest in hosting a forum or needs more information about the INS Special Registration Program may contact: Parastou Hassouri, Immigrant Rights Specialist at (973) 642-2084 or immigrant@aclu-nj.org.

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