Kris Kobach May Have Revealed His Immigration Plan

November 22nd 2016

Willie Burnley Jr.

President-elect Donald Trump was recently photographed with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is a member of Trump's transition team advising on immigration policy, and a potential pick to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Revealed in the photo, taken by an Associated Press photographer  on Sunday when the two met, is a document held by Kobach entitled “Kobach Strategic Plan For First 365 Days.” The document appears to be a hardline immigration plan


The page — or at least what can be seen from the zoomed in AP image — outlines a plan to track all immigrants from “high-risk areas” and to use the 1980 Refugee Act to reduce Syrian refugee intake to zero. This represents a reversal of the Obama administration’s effort to bring in more Syrian refugees to the United States.

(The Los Angeles Times transcribed the text here.)

Kobach has said that there will be a lot of work to do in his role because the president-elect and President Obama are “diametric opposites when it comes to immigration policy.” (ATTN: has reached out to Kobach and the Trump campaign and will update the story if they reply.)


Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the plan, however, is the “update and reintroduction” of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). The post-9/11 program, first temporarily established in 2002, required male immigrants 16 years and older from 25 nations — many of which had Muslim majorities — to be fingerprinted and questioned while entering the country.

NSEERS, which Kobach helped originally implement, was functionally dismantled in 2011 when all the countries involved in the registry were removed and the structure for the program remained intact. It is unclear whether Kobach would expand the system to monitor women and girls as well.

At the time of NSEERS’ suspension, the American Civil Liberties Union said:

“Although NSEERS was conceived as a program to prevent terrorist attacks, among the tens of thousands of people forced to register, the government did not achieve a single terrorism-related conviction. NSEERS proved completely ineffective as a counterterrorism tool while failing to give proper notice to many of its targets and often violating their right to counsel. This led to the deportations of thousands of men and boys from Arab- and Muslim-majority countries for civil immigration violations that were frequently based simply on a failure to understand NSEERS' arcane rules.”

In their statement, the ACLU compared the NSEERS registry to the Supreme Court’s Korematsu decision, which allowed the internment of Japanese-Americans. Some Trump surrogates have used the Korematsu decision as precedent for plan to register Muslims entering the country.

If Trump’s Muslim registry is based on the previous NSEERS model, then it would likely stand constitutional muster, according to constitutional law experts.

There is reason to believe that implementation of the program would slow the immigration process, at least for those coming from majority-Muslim countries, given that the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that its end would “streamline the collection of data for individuals entering or exiting the United States.”