This letter was sent to me in reply to this letter I wrote to Nancy on January 10, 2003.
Note: All underlines were included in the original.
April 4, 2003
Ms. Lisa Rein
(My home address here)
Dear Ms. Rein,
Thank you for contacting me to express your concern about the Department of Justice's "special registration" program. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
I believe that the US government must ensure that immigration laws are not applied in a way that violates fundamental protections against discrimination. Any registration process must be administered fairly, and those facing questioning, detention or other legal proceedings should be given prompt access to lawyers.
As you know, the Department of Justice has implemented a new system of tracking non-immigrant visa holders in the United States through a process known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). Under the NSEERS program, all non-immigrant men over the age of 16 from a list of 25 countries must register in person at Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) offices before certain deadlines.
There is no doubt that the tragic events of September 11 have changed our country. Some additional security measures and policy changes are necessary to reduce the threat of future attacks. In 2002, Congress passed the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, which authorized the implementation of an entry/exit system in order to track the flow of non-immigrants arriving into, and departing from, the United States. However, NSEERS was not contemplated in the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act and was developed by the Department of Justice without any Congressional consultation or oversight.
In February, the Senate agreed to an amendment (S.Amdt.54) during it's consideration of the FY2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.J.Res.2) that prevented funds from being spend on any NSEERS activity and directed the Attorney General to provide Congress with NSEERS-related documents and materials. The final version of H.J.Res.2, signed into law by President Bush, restored the funds for NSEERS, but required the Attorney General to provide Congress with materials regarding NSEERS by March 1, 2003. To date, the documents have not been provided to Congress.
Thank you again for taking the time to express your views on this important subject. I hope you will continue to communicate with me on matters of concern to you.
Member of Congress