RealClear Politics reporter and CNN political analyst Rebecca Berg told anchor Jake Tapper that President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team needs to answer how their proposal to instate a database of Muslim immigrants differs from similar programs that “unfairly targeting minorities” and failed to identify terrorists.
Berg explained to Tapper that Trump’s proposal to reinstate a database of Muslim immigrants bore similarities to a database the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) began after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The DHS database, called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), was ultimately shuttered after the program was found to be discriminatory and ineffective at identifying terror suspects. The American Civil Liberties Union reported in 2011 that of the 93,000 citizens added to the NSEERS database, zero were convicted on charges of terrorism. The Daily Dot reported that NSEER had “little consistency, creating confusion that often led the detainment of U.S. citizens and others who had done nothing else wrong.”
The Trump team, Berg said, will have to answer “what problem” the proposed database would be “actually solving” compared to NSEER, which “wasn't really efficient.“ From the November 17 edition of CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper:
JAKE TAPPER (HOST): Rebecca, let's talk a little bit about this database. There was talk during the campaign about a Muslim database, then there is talk about Muslim -- now a database of Muslim visitors to this country or immigrants. What is the reality here? What is the Trump team actually thinking about proposing?
REBECCA BERG: Well, we’ve had something like this before, Jake -- as you know -- after 9/11. The government implemented a similar database of people coming into and leaving the country from particularly threatening, perhaps, regions of the world, seen as threats. And they actually decided to do away with that.
[The Department of Homeland Security] said not only were they worried about it unfairly targeting minorities, Muslims, but it wasn't really efficient. It wasn't really effective. And so I think this is one of the questions that Trump and his team are going to have to answer as they move forward, potentially, with this policy is, “What problem is this actually solving? Is it actually adding any information to our broader intelligence system that we already have, information about these people coming into the country?”
And they’re going to have to address concerns about this unfairly targeting certain religions, certain minorities, certain ethnicities, and this has been a major concern throughout the campaign that they're unfairly targeting Muslims. So we haven't really heard the argument from them yet about this in particular. But we are hearing that it's something they're looking at. They had also talked about a travel ban during the campaign. I haven't really seen what's going to become of that. But this is maybe some uneven footing to start for the Trump transition, because you don't want to start with the most controversial issues necessarily when you're becoming president and trying to unite the country. It's a really tumultuous time.