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Obama to Dismantle Visitor Registry Before Trump Can Revive It

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The Obama administration is dismantling a dormant national registry program for visitors from countries with active terrorist groups — a program that President-elect Donald J. Trump has suggested he is considering resurrecting.

The registry, created after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has not been in use since 2011, so the move is largely symbolic and appeared to be aimed at distancing the departing administration from any effort by the new president to revive the program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or Nseers.

Asked on Wednesday, in the aftermath of the Berlin attack, whether he still intended to set up a registry for Muslims and impose a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants, Mr. Trump said in Florida, “You know my plans.” Hours later, a spokesman said Mr. Trump was not reaffirming his earlier calls for a ban on immigration from Muslim countries but was referring to his more recent clarification that he would bar people from countries with a history of Islamist extremism.

The move by the White House to formally end the registry is among the actions being taken in the final weeks of the administration that could prevent, or at least slow, what Democrats fear may be a swift rollback of President Obama’s efforts on immigration and climate change.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Among the Republican proponents of the registry program is Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and a member of Mr. Trump’s transition team. Mr. Kobach, an anti-immigration hard-liner, helped to devise the program while at the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration.

Last month, before a meeting with Mr. Trump, Mr. Kobach was photographed with a document of first-year proposals that included, under the rubric “Bar the Entry of Potential Terrorists,” a proposal to reintroduce the registry program.

That information, as well as Mr. Trump’s comments on the campaign trail, prompted Democratic lawmakers, mayors from cities with large foreign-born populations and some business leaders in Silicon Valley to call on Mr. Obama to undo the legal framework that undergirds the program.

That can be done with a rule change. The Department of Homeland Security submitted such a rule change for public posting on Thursday morning, and it is set to be published in the federal register on Friday.

“D.H.S. ceased use of Nseers more than five years ago, after it was determined the program was redundant, inefficient and provided no increase in security,” Neema Hakim, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement. The program is “not only obsolete” and “outdated,” but diverts personnel and resources from other areas that are seen as more effective, the statement said.

Read in full on NY Times: Obama to Dismantle Visitor Registry Before Trump Can Revive It

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