Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity Statement on Obama Administration Action to Dismantle NSEERS
December 22, 2016 -- The Obama administration announced today that it will shut down the framework surrounding “the Muslim registry,” or NSEERS. Special registration or NSEERS (National Security Entry-Exit Registration System) was developed in the wake of September 11, 2001, and continued to operate for nearly a decade. The program targeted men from 25 countries—predominantly Arab, Muslim, African, and South Asian—for registration, fingerprinting, photographing, and interviews at local immigration offices. Special registration created havoc in Muslim, Arab, African and South Asian communities, leading to deportations, separation of families, and the closures of immigrant-owned businesses. Though NSEERS was discontinued in 2011, the regulatory structure has remained on the books. The fact that this regulatory structure is being dismantled is welcome news, and we want to take a moment to recognize the many activists and community members who fought hard to make this victory possible.
Although the framework surrounding NSEERS is being dismantled, we also know that our work is far from done. We know that NSEERS was made possible because Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry enabled it—and the larger task of combating these forces remains more urgent than ever before. We also know that, while the Obama administration’s recent actions make the reinstatement of a Muslim registry more difficult, they do not make it impossible. The incoming Trump administration has repeatedly voiced the priority of targeting Muslims; we must remain vigilant and resist any such attempts. Just yesterday, when Donald Trump was asked about his plans for a Muslim registry, he responded by saying, “You know my plans.” It is clear our fight is far from over.
In this moment, we are also keenly aware of the importance of solidarity across affected communities. As LGBTQ Muslims, we know and understand intersectional oppression, because we experience it on a daily basis. Our community experiences anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Black racism, and xenophobia, in addition to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. As such, we know that our survival depends on working with all of the affected vulnerable communities, including undocumented people whose lives are at risk from the policies that the incoming government stands poised to implement. To institute some safeguard measures for them, we also urge that the Obama administration use all necessary means to protect vulnerable communities, especially undocumented people, before January 20, 2017, including using a blanket pardon, as advocated by Peter Markowitz (“Can Obama Pardon Millions of Immigrants.” New York Times. July 6, 2016).
More than anything else, we are reminded today that when we fight, we win. We welcome this win, but we remain vigilant about what comes next as the new administration takes office in 2017. We will continue to fight for our communities and we have faith that we will win.
The Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD) works to support, empower and connect LGBTQ Muslims. We seek to challenge root causes of oppression, including misogyny and xenophobia. We aim to increase the acceptance of gender and sexual diversity within Muslim communities, and to promote a progressive understanding of Islam that is centered on inclusion, justice, and equality. Connect with us at www.muslimalliance.org.