Terrorism

Trump Could Resurrect a Failed Bush-Era Screening Program for Muslim Immigrants

The NSEERS program screened more than 93,000 immigrants over nine years but failed to catch a single potential terrorist.

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Yin Bogu Xinhua News Agency/Newscom

Today's lesson in why you shouldn't build a pervasive and all-powerful surveillance state because it might one day end up in the tiny hands of a Donald Trump comes courtesy of the news that Trump could resurrect a Bush-era registration system for Muslims entering the United States.

According to Reuters, which spoke with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an immigration hardliner and key member of Trump's transition team, the new administration could reconstitute the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. The NSEERS program was implemented after 9/11 and required people from so-called "higher risk" countries to undergo interrogations and fingerprinting when they entered the United States and were required to periodically "check in" at government offices while they were here.

Trump's transition team is reportedly considering using the registration program as a way to meet The Donald's campaign promise to implement "extreme vetting" for Muslim immigrants. Kobach helped develop NSEERS as a member of Bush's Department of Justice.

The only problem with The NSEERS program—which was shuttered in 2011—was that it was completely ineffective at its stated goal: catching potential terrorists.

During the nine years that the program was in place, more than 93,000 immigrants were screened and none—not a single one—was ever convicted on terrorism-related charges.

According to the ACLU, the program "singled out immigrant men and boys from designated countries for extraordinary registration requirements with DHS, ranging from an extra half-hour of screening on arrival, through tracking of whereabouts while in the United States, to limitations on points of departure." The scale of profiling was something not seen in the United States since the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II and "Operation Wetback" deportations to Mexico in the 1950s.

Even within the federal government's immigration and anti-terrorism apparatuses, it was looked on as a mistake. James Ziegler, the former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Commission, told the New York Times that the program disrupted the United States' relationship with immigrant communities after 9/11 and wasted resources that could have been better deployed elsewhere.

It's not hard to figure out why the program failed to identify any potential terrorists. It was, by nature, targeting only law-abiding immigrants. As Reason's Shikha Dalmia wrote last year: "Expecting terrorists to voluntarily stroll to an immigration office to be fingerprinted and IDed is absurd, of course. So the entirely predictable upshot of the program was that although it managed to obtain not a single terrorism-related conviction, it did ruin plenty of lives of peaceful Muslims caught in its dragnet."

People like Abdulameer Yousef Habeeb, a refugee from Iraq whose story demonstrates exactly how the NSEERS program was abused by law enforcement. As a refugee, Habeeb was not required to register with NSEERS, but he was stopped by border agents while traveling via train from Seattle to Washington, D.C., in April 2003. The agents wrongly accused Habeeb of violating NSEERS mandatory registration and detained him for more than a week, causing him to lose the job that he was traveling to Washington, D.C., to accept. After a lawsuit from the ACLU, the federal government eventually admitted they were wrong to have detained Habeeb.

And people like Imad Daou, a Lebanese national and graduate student at Texas A&M who was engaged to be married when he was detained for two months and eventually deported for failing to register in the NSEERS program. Though the program was no good at catching terrorists, it did help authorities deport thousands of immigrants, like Daou, who had done nothing worse than overstay their visa.

The program was suspended by the Obama administration in 2011, but Obama didn't fully dismantle it. Instead, Vox reports, Obama simply removed all 25 "high risk" countries from the list (24 of them were in the Middle East; North Korea was the other one). All President Trump would have to do is repopulate the list and NSEERS could be up and running again.

The NSEERS program was a failure, and an abusive one at that. Even so, Trump would be on solid legal ground to bring it back.

The ACLU has promised to challenge a resurrection of NSEERS, but previous legal challenges to the program did not get very far, as federal courts gave broad deference to the executive branch on setting immigration policies.

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  1. The only problem with The NSEERS program?which was shuttered in 2011?was that it was completely ineffective at its stated goal: catching potential terrorists.

    I thought it was shuttered mainly because it was redundant with other systems implemented to track immigration. Could be wrong about that, though.

    1. Yes, well, given how many false positives it would have taken to catch the Tsarnovs or the San Bernadino shooters, or the Pulse shooter on their last trips abroad, column a is probably categorically true, although that may not be the reason it was turned off.

      1. Tsarnaev.

        /pedantskij

        1. I’m just glad I got it in the right ballpark off the top of my head. Obviously, I’m a racist, because I couldn’t remember the other names the same way.

          1. Racist against actual Caucasians, huh?

      2. I mean, this is the government we’re talking about here. If a program ever ends, it’s almost never because the powers that be realized it was wrong. It’s because there’s already 3 other programs doing the same thing, and we need money to stock the snack bar.

        1. It’s because there’s already 3 other programs doing the same thing, and one agency head was less connected and manipulative than the other two.

          1. Plus, the staff from that unconstitutional program needs to be allocated to another unconstitutional domestic spying program.

          2. Mere redundancy is not even close to sufficient reason to shut down a gubmint fiefdom.

    2. That was the ONLY problem?

    3. It probably failed for political correctness, not because it was ineffective.

  2. “singled out immigrant men and boys from designated countries for extraordinary registration requirements with DHS, ranging from an extra half-hour of screening on arrival, through tracking of whereabouts while in the United States, to limitations on points of departure.”

    One of these things is not like the others. Using data to flag pubescent males for additional screening is not quite the same thing as active surveillance or limiting departure points.

    1. Except they didn’t use ‘data’ at all. *None* of these programs use ‘data’. Because they don’t have any. They select a few nationalities for extra scrutiny and then turn on a random number generator.

      If you get caught by RNGesus and you’re able to sweet talk the interrogator then you get to walk. If you get nervous or bitchy you get a parole officer and a requirement to leave the country at only certain points.

      1. Just easier not to let people in from Islamic majority countries, and maybe a few other places.

  3. “failed to catch a single potential terrorist”

    So you’re saying that it successfully deterred terrorist from even trying to come here?

    1. Bingo. That is a pretty big logical fallacy on reason’s part. Of course that doesn’t mean the program worked. But it also doesn’t mean it didn’t. The whole point is to prevent people from committing terrorist acts. So, the fact that none of the people you screened and didn’t let in the country ended up doing that is not evidence the program failed.

      1. Yeah, it kind of is. It is when you’re screaming that this sort of program is absolutely essential to stop the hundred million polar bears bearing down on your town to devour the population yet not a single polar bear gets through.

        There isn’t a single program in the existence of the universe that’s ever had a 0% false negative rate.

        1. Except polar bears aren’t like sleeper agents, and are 600 pound polar bears that don’t look like people, but polar bears.

          Just because it’s an analogy, doesn’t mean it’s a good one.

    2. This is why I support spending 23,000 trillion on anti-extra-terrestrial-terrorism. We don’t even know the risk we’re running, otherwise, which is crazy.

      1. No. We do know terrorism is a threat. And we do know that terrorists will enter the country legally if they can. So, ensuring they don’t is not a crazy idea. Moreover, when you start screening people, you would expect actual terrorists to try to find other ways into the country. The point of the program is to make them do that and not enter the country legally.

        1. I wonder why Obama continued this program until 2011 and then had it terminated?

          Another good question is why the media was not ripping Obama a new asshole about this like they are Trump before Trump is even president?

          1. I wonder why Obama continued this program until 2011 and then had it terminated?

            He didn’t read about in the newspaper until then?

          2. And I don’t recall reason saying a word about the program under Bush or Obama. Yet, suddenly it is this big deal.

              1. Trump’s first big controversial initiative is to take Rand Paul’s advice?

                The Horror!

              2. As it far better to let everyone in no matter what, even if we get killed. Because open borders.

            1. Well, Reason has to do a lot of virtue signaling to their failed friends in the left.

        2. Indeed, we do know terrorism is a threat. Have you been keeping up on your lightning-insurance premiums?

          1. Do you walk around in thunderstorms with a metal ladder?

            1. So, not spending x-amount of money to single-out and track people for whom you have no articulable suspicion, is equivalent to walking around with a metal ladder in a thunderstorm.

              Hell, arguments for registering and tracking gun owners make more sense than that.

            2. No. But I didn’t throw out my metal ladders either.

          2. You’re comparing an act of nature to an intentional act of violence on the part of a certain group of people who have a well-documented record of committing such *random* acts of violence that result in death and dismemberment of innocent people. That’s a yuuuge category error.

            You have to take into account relative risk of catastrophic harm from a preventable event. And I agree with those who’ve pointed out the glaring fallacy of Reason’s argument here, which is that they fail to address the possibility of deterrence. That is not a R/reason-able position at all. Very disappointing.

            1. The group in question is comprised of visa holders, and we have hard evidence, garnered from the years in which this program was in operation, that the expected likelihood of attacks originating with this group is, and therefore that the expected degree of risk mitigation to be gained by the program’s reinstatement would be, exactly zero.

              The category error is for you to try to substitute a more general set, the precise nature of which you do not specify, for the more specific one being discussed here.

  4. “Expecting terrorists to voluntarily stroll to an immigration office to be fingerprinted and IDed is absurd, of course.

    Sounds like if the goal was to prevent “terrorists” from entering the country legally, then the program worked.

    1. Exactly that. Yes, they don’t come into the immigration office when you screen them. The do however when you don’t and that is the entire point.

        1. Coulda done it more cheaply getting one of them anti-immigrant rocks I keep in my back yard. I haven’t seen a single terrorist in my back yard ever since they’ve been installed so don’t try and tell me they weren’t well worth the $81500 I paid for ’em.

          1. So you don’t think Islamic terrorists exist Jerry? If you do think they exist, then your analogy doesn’t work.

            1. It works. It works perfectly. He’s saying that the absence of terrorists is completely unrelated to this program.

              Which, I might remind you, found *no terrorists* yet terrorists were able to legally enter the country and perform terroristic acts during the time the program was active *and* there’s been no uptick in the half-decade since it was suspended.

              Given that there’s no correlation between the number of terror attacks and this program, I would be willing to say that this program has no effect on terrorism.

  5. The only problem with The NSEERS program?which was shuttered in 2011?was that it was completely ineffective at its stated goal: catching potential terrorists.

    Oh so now good intentions are bad too!?

  6. end up in the tiny hands of a Donald Trump

    Sorry, not as funny as you thought it would be.

    1. Eeeeh…it’s barely 0.3 Domestic Dissidents…

    2. end up in the capacious rectum of Melania.

      Better?

  7. whose story demonstrates exactly how the NSEERS program was abused by law enforcement. As a refugee, Habeeb was not required to register with NSEERS, but he was stopped by border agents while traveling via train from Seattle to Washington, D.C., in April 2003. The agents wrongly accused Habeeb of violating NSEERS mandatory registration and detained him for more than a week, causing him to lose the job that he was traveling to Washington, D.C., to accept.

    This is not a demonstration of how the NSEERS program failed.

    1. What, you think maybe LEOs should understand the L they are Eing? Crazy talk! Clearly it’s the program that’s at fault!

    2. stopped by border agents while traveling via train from Seattle to Washington, D.C.

      Unless this train went through Canada at some point, what in the ever loving fuck? Yes, yes, I know they have like a 200 mile buffer zone or something*.

      *I suppose if you detrain an re-entrain at an international port of entry, this could happen without any outrage on my point.

      1. Yes, yes, I know they have like a 200 mile buffer zone or something*.

        Given Amtrak is Federal, I assume open season for any alphabet-soup agency at any time anywhere.

      2. The area within 100 miles of any border is, to immigration law enforcement, a Constitution free zone.

      3. 100 miles from the border – and the coast is a border.

    3. I’m not generally a proponent of programs that randomly stop citizens for extra scrutiny, because they are citizens and have rights. People who immigrate to the United States illegally also have certain rights, but they are not the same rights legally speaking regardless of your view on Natural Rights.

      What I do find interesting about these examples is that a foreign national who had over stayed their visa was able to get a job in Washington, D.C. despite their inability to legally work in the United States. Yet somehow, the takeaway is that this individual did nothing wrong? I’d say that requires a lot of presupposition.

      I’d like to hear a more cogent argument on why a program that apparently did what no other program is successfully doing, that being deporting people who no longer have the legal right to live and work in the United States, is a failure at monitoring people who have a temporary permit to live and work in the United States. Everyone in the world does not have the right to live and work in the United States.

      It would seem the only stated objection is that it targets people from specific countries, so would it be a good or bad thing to expand that type of monitoring to all Visa holders or, alternatively, is the argument that there should be no oversight on immigration at all?

      1. In other words, was this program altered because it wasn’t finding terrorists or was it altered because it was effective at removing people who had overstayed their Visa’s?

        1. I doubt the latter – Obama has had no problem deporting people.

          1. In fact, given the number of illegals deported under the Obama Administration (somewhere around 3 million, and no – that does not include those turned away at the border) I now think it might actually be *practical* to deport a significant portion of the illegal population over one (definitely two) administrations.

            3 mil over 8 years could easily be bumped up to 9 mil over the next 8.

  8. “The only problem with The NSEERS program?which was shuttered in 2011?was that it was completely ineffective at its stated goal: catching potential terrorists.

    During the nine years that the program was in place, more than 93,000 immigrants were screened and none?not a single one?was ever convicted on terrorism-related charges.”

    There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t know where to start.

    How ’bout we start with the following statement:

    During the nine years I kept my front door locked at night, not a single burglar tried to come through my front door–so I might as well not bother to lock it?

    During the nine years I kept paying my fire insurance premium, not a single fire every broke out in my home.

    What kind of logic is that?

    Ever heard the phrase “problem of induction”?

    Next up, let’s look at the subject of deterrence. If terrorists know they’re going to get caught by that route and avoid it because of that, then the screening is working, right?

    “As Reason’s Shikha Dalma wrote last year: “Expecting terrorists to voluntarily stroll to an immigration office to be fingerprinted and IDed is absurd, of course.”

    Is that being given as a good reason to discontinue the program?

    Really?!

    Why would the programs obvious deterrence effect suggest it should be discontinued?

    1. Dalamia being an idiot never bothers to consider that terrorists will stroll into an immigration office if they don’t think you are trying to catch them.

      1. An it used to be like that!

        When my dad worked at the Treasury Department, back in the day, they’d been trying to combine the Customs Department, the Border Patrol, and the INS since the Nixon administration, but there was too much resistance both politically and bureaucratically. They all had the same jurisdiction and responsibilities, but they were under different departments, etc.

        It was like trying to merge the Army, Air Force, and Navy–they all have their own fiefdoms, and the resistance to that is just too great.

        The straw that broke the camel’s back and broke the resistance to those various agencies merging into Homeland Security was when the INS sent visa approvals to the flight school the 9/11 hijackers attended–six months after they’d crashed those airlines into the World Trade Center.

        If people have to knock on the door because we’ve got it locked now, then good!

      2. “MIAMI, Florida (CNN) — Six months to the day after Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi flew planes into the World Trade Center, the Immigration and Naturalization Service notified a Venice, Florida, flight school that the two men had been approved for student visas.

        Rudi Dekkers of Huffman Aviation, where Atta, 33, and Al-Shehhi, 23, first trained in July 2000, showed the yellow INS forms to CNN during an interview Monday. Dekkers said he was surprised to get the forms at such a late date.

        The INS had a different reaction.

        “I think it is certainly embarrassing that the letters show up at this late date,” said INS spokesman Russ Bergeron. “It does serve to illustrate what we have been saying since 1995 — that the current system for collecting information and tracking foreign students is antiquated, outdated, inaccurate and untimely.”

        http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/03/…..ool.visas/

        1. Wait, if they didn’t have student visas, how were they able to attend school?

          1. Wait, if they didn’t have student visas, how were they able to attend school?

            Weren’t some of the 20 explicitly vouched for by KSA, and came in as either KSA governmental employees or other employees of their bureaucracy?

            As to vetting of prospective visitors from foreign lands like Syria, Afghanistan or Somalia, how can it possibly occur when the country of origin’s government and records often no longer exist?

            1. This is actually a real problem from what I’ve heard. If there’s no government, or a very hostile government, there is essentially nothing there to review. Some people err on the side of safety, and say no to their entry, and others err on the side of humanitarianism and err on the side of helping people in extreme need.

              I’m not sure what the middle ground looks like, but observation and checking in with the government every so often feels like a low burden to avoid being murdered in one’s home country. I’m not a fan, and it’s no doubt hugely expensive, but there are two interests in opposition here soooo…legislate.

          2. “Wait, if they didn’t have student visas, how were they able to attend school?

            I think they may have been extensions or renewals.

            It takes a long time to process those requests, so long, that legal residents often apply for extensions and renewals as soon as they get here–because it can take longer to get a renewal or an extension than your visa is good for.

      3. Dalamia [sic]

        did not write this article.

        1. But she was quoted in this article.

        2. Is cited in the article and John was responding to the Dalmia quote.

          He fucks up all the time. Let him be correct stand!

        3. But she was quoted in the article, and that’s what John responded to.

          1. I am duly chastised.

            Carry on!

    2. . . . then the screening is working, right?

      Going back to your insurance analogy – even if its working, is it worth the cost?

      This wasn’t the only method in place to stop terrorism. And its been suspended for 5 years now. To no effect. There was no dip in terrorism while it was active, no spike while it was suspended. So what’s it doing?

      You guys keep going on as if its a tiger-repellent rock.

  9. If the NSEERS program is so horrifically bad, a better post should have been published by a better writer about it.

  10. Hold it, if screening doesn’t catch any terrorist, why then does Reason have so much faith that Syrian refugees can be vetted?

    1. Because the aren’t any terrorists among the refugees. Jesus, John, I saw all the photos and they didn’t have a SINGLE Confederate flag!

      Fucking hell, you racists, I can’t even.

      1. I know, all those women and children refugees photographed had Tiny American Flags, right? Not a male of fighting age to be seen amoungst them.

      2. I don’t know, some of them looked awfully pale.

        1. They were pale because they love America so much and thought of President Trump made it hard to sleep or eat!

  11. [I]t did help authorities deport thousands of immigrants, like Daou, who had done nothing worse than overstay their visa. The program was suspended by the Obama administration in 2011, but Obama didn’t fully dismantle it.

    Which happens to be the biggest source of illegal immigration, La Boh?me. And under legitimate purview of the Executive Branch, by the by, since those applicant agreed, in writing, to follow the law in accordance with them being granted legal status while in the USA.

    The program wasn’t catching terrorists, suspected or actual, it appears, but was actually catching errant visa scofflaws. I can see why Obumbles nixed the program, since it was actually effective at something.

    1. There’s no such thing as illegal immigration, Groovus.

      You are talking about undocumented immigration. For example, people whose visas expire magically disappear from any record of entry into the country. We just need to document them and all will be well.

    2. Didn’t some of the 9/11 bombers overstay their visas?

      1. Yes, most of them did, IIRC (I seem to remember a couple still had legit visas in their possession as fig leaf for the other conspirators).

        As soon as they finished their flight school training, they went underground and their visas expired, regardless of whether or not they graduated from their respective programs.

      2. They also got flight instruction from a local airport really close by.

        I thought about dressing up as one of the hijackers one Halloween and go there to trick-or-treat. My lady said she would leave me if I did it. She got mad that it took me a few minutes to decide.

    3. “suspended by the Obama administration in 2011”

      It’s almost like he was gearing up for an election the next year and didn’t want any bad press. Not that he would have gotten it anyways, seeing as how the media can’t even be bothered to call him out for blaming Benghazi on a YouTube video.

  12. Now, now… Inconveniencing a few Muslims is a small price to pay for the illusion of security.

  13. So if registering Firearms doesn’t keep guns from “Bad” people, then we should quit doing it? Sounds good to me

    1. You register your firearms?

      The gubmint has zero idea how many weapons I have. Unless you all rat me out.

      1. I could arm a whole regiment of Dragoons.

        *whistles in cell while waiting for the search teams to finish wasting their time*

        1. Ah, I see you respect the Founders intention, and have invested in flintlock muskets. Like every True American Patriot, Brown Bess, I assume?

          1. Modern dragoons should carry short barrelled shotguns. – the decendants of the dragoon blunderbuses.

        2. Smoothbore muskets, huh? According to a lot of pro-gun-control progs, that’s what the 2nd Amendment was talking about, so you should be good.

          1. There are modern dragoon regiments – they’re mechanized infantry in most cases, though some still use horses for ceremonial purposes.

            1. Much maligned Polish Cavalry of WW2 was trained as dragoons, as were the Cavalry Divisions and Brigades of Red Army, Romania and Italy. Soviets were seriously considering keeping some Cav around, due to off-road capability and ease of refueling, but finally gave up in…60s?

              1. The bad rap the polish cavalry got was post-hoc propaganda. They were acutally a very effective, modern (for the time) force that was simply unable to stop the armored blitz they were faced with. Any futile charges were at the last desperate moments to avoid the disgrace of surrender. They had anti-tank guns and put them to use, but the tactical and strategic situation simply doomed them.

                1. ^ Preach it brother! Eat dick at Mokra, panzers!

                  (not a Pole but I play one on forums)

                  1. I can’t find it right now but i have read that at the outset of WWII, one of the largest cavalry forces in the world (if not the largest) was part of the Wehrmacht.

                    Most militaries of the time still used horses for a lot of stuff. The only army that had almost entirely converted its supply lines from horse-drawn wagons to trucks was that of the U.S.

                    1. At the start Germans had just one Cavalry division. It didn’t do well in Poland and was converted to Panzer by Barbarossa. I think Guderian had some acerbic comments about their problems crossing terrain that Polish cavalry crossed just fine.

                      But yes, most of German transport was horse-drawn. The mechanized tip of the spear in Panzer and some Motorized division was very, very thin, and bulk of the army still used wagons for troop and material transport, and horse-drawn limbers for guns. Caused huge problems in 1941, when they were unable to bring infantry fast enough to complete encirclements, so motorized and panzer troops had to fight to keep Red Army from breaking out, causing attrition and degrading their ability to perform offensive actions later.

    2. But if registering firearms means that criminals must get their firearms from some other source then the registration program is a success? Right? So we should keep doing it.

  14. Obama simply removed all 25 “high risk” countries from the list (24 of them were in the Middle East; North Korea was the other one). All President Trump would have to do is repopulate the list and NSEERS could be up and running again.

    The NSEERS program was a failure, and an abusive one at that. Even so, Trump would be on solid legal ground to bring it back.

    The ACLU has promised to challenge a resurrection of NSEERS, but previous legal challenges to the program did not get very far, as federal courts gave broad deference to the executive branch on setting immigration policies.

    Iron Law. Iron Law. Iron Law.

    Yes, I know Reason staff (mostly) understands it, but maybe try harder explaining it to your friends at other media. Or universities, or government, or NGOs.

  15. “…deport thousands of immigrants, like Daou, who had done nothing worse than overstay their visa.”

    Overstaying a visa is a freaking crime, and it’s a crime in most (all?) countries. “This program led to people being deported because they violated the terms that allowed them to be in this country” seems like exactly the sort of thing you want an immigration program to do.

    Maybe (probably?) NSEER was a wasteful program that was doomed to fail. The fact it resulted in deporting thousands of immigrants who were not allowed to be in the country seems a weak nail to hang that on though.

    1. If it wasn’t a crime, the visa wouldn’t expire. We would just grant open visas.

    2. People should be free to come and go as they please. That’s why you should shut up about the family of Koreans that took up residence in your basement.

      1. One guy on ZeroHedge had sugested a way about open borders and I quote:“With two big, critically important, caveats: 1) there can be no welfare or free government services, so everyone has to pay his own way, and no freeloaders are attracted; and
        2) all property is privately owned, to minimize the possibility of squatter camps full of beggars.

        In the absence of welfare benefits, immigrants are usually the best of people because you get mobile, aggressive, and opportunity-seeking people that want to leave a dead old culture for a vibrant new one. The millions of immigrants who came to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had zero in the way of state support.

        But what is going on in Europe today is entirely different. The migrants coming to Europe aren’t being attracted by opportunity in the new land so much as the welfare benefits and the soft life. For the most part they are unskilled and poorly educated….”

        1. With two big, critically important, caveats: 1) there can be no welfare or free government services, so everyone has to pay his own way, and no freeloaders are attracted; and
          2) all property is privately owned, to minimize the possibility of squatter camps full of beggars.

          This, exactly, is the real problem. Good on him for identifying it.

        2. “The millions of immigrants who came to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had zero in the way of state support.”

          Even back then some states had almshouses, and some of the Famine immigrants from Ireland spent time in these.

          Of course, the support for immigrants wasn’t nearly as extensive as now – eg, the Irish immigrants preferred backbreaking labor in the open air to languishing in almshouses, when jobs were available.

          1. We were willing to let them die in the streets if they didn’t find work.

            No longer the case.

      2. People should be free to come and go as they please. That’s why you should shut up about the family of Koreans that took up residence in your basement.

        And your private property is the same as the whole country!

        I’m getting sick of this tired and lame analogy. It’s no less idiotic ever time I see it. And it’s just painful to see it coming from a “libertarian.”

        1. And it’s just painful to see it coming from a “libertarian.”

          Good thing I never claimed to be one, eh?

    3. Ahem. PWND

      1. It was such a brilliant comment it needed to be rephrased and repeated.

    4. Overstaying a visa is a freaking crime

      It breaks the law but isn’t a crime.

      1. Then how do you define crime?

        1. A violation of the NAP. Duh.

          1. I think ‘isn’t wrong’ is a better term.

            Anything that breaks the law is, by definition, a crime – very little that breaks the law *is wrong* by our standards.

          2. It is a contract violation.

  16. If reason really wants to help the libertarian cause and make sure libertarian concerns are taken seriously on the issues of immigration and terrorism, it might try being honest and adopting a consistent position. And while they are at it, they might try recognizing that there are legitimate concerns about immigration and Islamic terrorism possibly resulting from it. As long as it continues to think vetting is magical and perfect when done on Syrian refugees but then somehow a complete waste of time when done in any other context and continues to call anyone who thinks the world has a Islamic terrorism problem THE RACIST, no one is going to take them seriously or Libertarian concerns about these issues seriously either.

    1. Let’s not fly off the handle here. Yes, this post was pretty poorly done. That is not an indication of ‘reason’ anything. It’s pointed out time and again that there are different writers with different viewpoints who contribute to reason.

      1. Honest question – which writer has written multiple times with different position on immigration than the one John caricatures above?

        The “Pot, Ass Sex and Mexicans” line stuck not just because it’s quotable. It is, for better or worse (and I think, better) pretty much Reason magazine credo.

        1. My point is that not every writer is as crazy on immigration as Shika and Eric here. Just like every contributor is not Steve Chapman.

          1. Again, which writer isn’t? I mean, maybe Welch in his heart believes visa controls are a good thing, but when did any article on immigration* not follow the “let anyone in who wants in” path?

            I’m not being contentious, I admit my brain is losing it in my dotage and that I have an attention span of Reason server squirrel, but I’d like to read something different on immigration above the comment link…

            *immigration to the US. I guess they might be more picky over who gets to live in Japan or someshit…

          2. I just wish Chapman, Dalmia, and co. would respond cogently to the criticisms that are leveled against their arguments. I’ll give Bailey some credit in that, while he never seems to change his mind, he does at least defend his ideas without attacking the source.

            1. Jesse Walker is also willing to tangle (and usually comes out on top). Scott Shackford and ENB also do it from time to time.
              Dalmia probably sees no reason to defend her ideas, when she clearly presents the truth in her article, and all the racists in the comments just racistly nativist at her because they are racist nativists. How could she even, I ask you?

              1. I remember, very clearly, two times Shikha waded into The Commentariat to tangle with us Peanuts.

                Those two commenters were:

                1) RC Dean; and

                2) Heroic Mulatto.

                She got her ass handed to her both times. It was kind of sad, actually. And neither were over immigration, actually. RC Dean skewered her on ObmaneyCare, and HM destroyed her WRT to conflict b’twixt Islamo-Mohammedans and Hindus in India.

                Also, Ed Krayweski has waded into the comments to do battle (also, remarkably enough, with RC, as well as John, and couple of others, in one particular post).

                Jesse Walker…(and usually comes out on top)

                Not yesterday.-)

                1. Well, sometimes superior pedantry makes him edit his article.

                  I actually did it twice!

                  1. I’m convinced that the concept of “pedantry” doesn’t really exist.

                    Using the word to disparage another person’s correction is the same as saying “nobody cares” which is obviously not true, otherwise it wouldn’t have been said at all. In reality it just means “I don’t care” to which the only proper response is: tough titties.

              2. Shackleford, ENB, Fruit Sushi, ed, and Welch have all made forays into the fever swamp that is Hit’n’Run. Welch admitted to reading the comments regularly on a recent edition of “The 5th Column” (he awesomely referred to Crusty’s mancrush on Kmele Foster as “unseemly”), ENB will occasionally engage with our stupid memes, and Eddie Kray has even been known to repurpose said memes as alt-text.

            2. The trouble I am seeing is that this Libertarian magazine has non-Libertarian writers writing clickbait articles that have indefensible positions that they don’t even try and defend. This is one of the few places online that I almost always go straight to the comments first.

              I am for non-Libertarians contributing stories to Reason. They can expect a shit storm of criticism. I would give a writer kudos for owning their article like that and it would be challenging for them.

          3. Okay which writers are not crazy on immigration? And why does the crazy always go one way?

            1. John, remember that comment you made about the editorial staff basically being insular and cookie cut from the same tool?

              You need to keep that comment handy so you can re-post it. The relative lack of diversity of thought, overall, is rather striking, actually. About the only ones who do is Stephanie Slade, who is the token lifer and religion person on staff, whom they very occasionally let out of her cage, and Ronal’d Bejlij, the Technocratic Pragmatist, who only cares about immortality and everything Human-nerfed with AI making all the decisions.

              Otherwise, in terms of writer suggesting any limits on immigration at all, I can’t think of one. Except Gillespie, who I heard with my own ears on The Jerry Doyle Show, admit that past and present criminal history and infections disease were legitimate immigration limiters.

              1. I can’t fault Bailey too much for wanting to live in Neal Asher’s Polity universe (of course, without the threat of being blown up and/or eaten and/or cored and thralled by Prador).

              2. They still publish 2-chilly and Harsanyi, and even if Shackford agrees with the others on issues, he is the most fair-minded and genuinely liberal of any of the writers.

                I have no idea why they publish Chapman. Dalmia, as much as she grates on the commentariat, can at least be justified by the fact that she almost exclusively write things in line with the editorial position. She’s still not as bad as Richman, though.

    2. Yeah, I hate to say it, but I was going to raise the same issue. Reason was pretty adamant that vetting was a perfect way to deal with the possibility of terrorists entering the country when the issue came up in the refugee crisis.

    3. The biggest problem with Reason‘s analysis to me, along with/besides some of the other points that have been made, is what does “screening” mean?

      They say not a single person who was screened was convicted of terrorism or related charges (I’m assuming that also means none of them ever committed acts of terrorism, either, since most Islamic terrorists don’t leave a live body behind to try/convict). Does that mean there was a 0% false negative rate, or that there was a 0% overall positive rate?

      Phrased differently, was anyone turned away by the “screening” process? If so, what can be said of those individuals?

      Also, did the “screening” process result in actionable conclusions about some of the individuals who were “screened” (i.e., this person may enter the country but should be watched closely)? etc.

      1. what does “screening” mean?

        It means a sop to the racist troglodytes so they’ll let the poor Arabs get into the country. Basically a placebo to shut up the crying child.

      2. Yeah, when it comes to Reason and immigration, you have to watch them as carefully as progs with… any issue. Or conservatives with… gays and drugs, I guess? They seem to prefer “it’s bad” rather than statistics, though.

        Immediate thought is that it’s a much lower bar to clear to ban entry to or deport someone than to convict them in court and send them to prison. And it solves the immediate problem either way. I wouldn’t actually expect to see a lot of terrorism charges or convictions, so much as people just getting kicked out or turned away once they raised a certain number of red flags.

    4. John, Reason *has* adopted a consistent position. Its just not the one you want. Yes, they (IMO) hand-wave away issues of terrorism – but you focus heavily on those issues and hand-wave away things like how many of them are coming for the opportunity.

      But its not dishonest, its just a different interpretation of different data sets and a different weighting of what is important that leads to different conclusions.

  17. “Though the program was no good at catching terrorists, it did help authorities deport thousands of immigrants, like Daou, who had done nothing worse than overstay their visa.”

    You write that like its a bad thing.

    1. Remember that this all is coming from a guy who still thinks media polls are accurate.

  18. I’m going to go ahead and assume the commenters are now in favor of the TSA because there haven’t been any 9/11-style attacks since they started making you take off your shoes at the airport.

    1. Nobody could stop you from making that assumption. Just like nobody could stop you from making a fool of yourself by posting it.

    2. Is this an example of Bastiat’s observation of society and government? That there’s a need for security and safety in air travel doesn’t mean the TSA’s security theater is providing either.

      1. It’s not security theater, it’s extremely effective: there have been no 9/11-style attacks since it was established.

        1. The TSA fails routinely on its own metrics, and not by small margins. If the government has been effective at preventing “9/11-style” attacks on U.S. soil, it’s not because of the TSA.

          1. +1 95% rate of missing bombs and weapons on effectiveness tests.

            1. I’d also count attacks like those on Paris and Mumbai as “9/11-style”, albeit smaller in scale. The Transportation Security Administration wouldn’t* address threats to/attacks on public venues even if it was perfectly effective. Maybe “TSA” is meant as a stand-in for “DHS”, but even so I’m sure the other IC and LE agencies would like to take some of the credit, too.

              * = Generally speaking, but there are mandates to expand, budgets to enlarge, and billets to create

          2. Well they’re clearly using the wrong metrics then, because as everyone knows, there have not been any 9/11-style attacks in the past 15 years. Plus TSA has caught plenty of people traveling with prescriptions that weren’t theirs. It’s a highly effective agency.

            1. True, the government does have one core competency, and that is fucking with people.

            2. Don’t forget, they’ve also practically eliminated the threat of old ladies clipping their nails on airplanes.

              1. The very same airplanes where they gave me a real steak knife with my dinner?

                1. As a state employee, you certainly should know better than to look for logical consistency in the bureaucratic mind.

        2. Why would you do the same type of attack as 9/11? There are plenty of methods of doing bad things on planes that would never be caught by the TSA. Nobody has desired to bad things on planes in the USA yet.

    3. No. Bu that is because the private sector could do airport security better than TSA. Do you think the private sector could do border screening better? Even if you do, that is still admitting that screening is necessary.

      1. Airport screening is for everyone to “feel” safe. Truth is most Americans do not want to blow themselves up.

        Anyone who wants to do harm find a way.

        1. Airport screening is to remove liability from the airlines when, God forbid, they fuck it up in the near future and some hapless 777 rains down off Long Island after takeoff.

          It also forces competent bad guys to use another means to access airplanes, should they want to do air terrorism again. My money is on their co-opting some of the ground crew.

          Providing employment in times of de facto double-digit unemployment, to people who couldn’t get hired at McDonalds, is the other main purpose of the TSA.

    4. I’m genuinely surprised that you guys haven’t figured out that Hail Rataxes is mocking (some of) you guys, not legitimately making this argument.

      1. Yeah, it’s getting confusing how stupid they are, isn’t it?

      2. you guys haven’t figured out that Hail Rataxes is mocking (some of) you guys

        He seems to be simply re-stating a fallacy people already identified.

        e.g. “no terrorists were caught” is not proof of failure

        its also – in his formulation – no proof of TSA’s success.

        Its a metric that says nothing unless there’s more detail on what the external threat was, how many were thwarted from ever entering in the first place, how many people were removed for other circumstances… etc.

        I think most people understand that correlation /= causation.

  19. On a certain level, I can’t help but wonder why the ACLU and Reason can’t just claim victory here.

    A guy who, a few months ago, was talking about banning all Muslims from entering the country, is now looking like he might be satisfied with vetting the hell out of guys coming from high risk areas. That’s a position a lot of us said we’d have been comfortable with in the first place.

    1. ACLU wants more immigrants from poor, preferably America-hating parts of the world in order to boost voter rolls for Democrat party.

      Reason magazine has an ideological commitment to open borders upon which there can never be any compromise. Shit, they still consider Obama Deporter-in-Chief.

      So no, unless Trump declares no border controls whatsoever, they will not be satisfied. To be fair to Reason, they’d do the same to Clinton.

    2. They won’t claim victory because they are stupid. And they are going to keep fucking around until we get a really bad terrorist attack and the resulting backlash gives us measures much worse than anything even being proposed now. What would be nice is if reason and the ACLU would get it through their heads telling people “fuck off and die” and “what are your chances you stupid racist hillbilly” is not a productive response to concerns over Islamic terrorism.

      1. What would be nice is if reason and the ACLU would get it through their heads telling people “fuck off and die” and “what are your chances you stupid racist hillbilly” is not a productive response to concerns over Islamic terrorism.

        Why would that happen when a variant of that has been their response to poor and lower middle class workers complaining about their jobs being outsourced, or their wages declining? E.g., “buggy whips,” “nobody’s entitled to have a job,” etc…

        I understand that the desired answer by ‘the hillbillies’ in both cases goes against Libertarian/Cato doctrine; it’s the attitude that the hillbillies don’t have any argument at all that’s grating. Or the fake surprise at Trump’s appeal to said lower and lower middle class workers.

    3. A guy who, a few months ago, was talking about banning all Muslims from entering the country, is now looking like he might be satisfied with vetting the hell out of guys coming from high risk areas.

      Trump’s rhetoric is deal-making to him I believe. Like going to buy carpet in a souk, there is no listed price. So Sheik Trump says he’ll pay ten dinars for it. The carpet-proprietor looks offended, and says it is 100 dinars, and a steal at that price. Back-and-forth, back-and-forth they go, and carpet sells for like forty or fifty dinars.

      Sheik Jeb! in same souk would offer ninety dinars, and end up walking out the souk paying 130 dinars for it.

      Sheik Obama is a carpet proprietor, and he tries selling his carpet for five hundred dinars, then blames everyone for being stupid when he doesn’t even get an offer, so he closes up shop without getting any sales at all.

      Sheik Hillary just steals the carpet, then tries billing everyone a hundred dinars for the missing carpet – because children need carpets too – then catches Bill doing unsavory things to a camel.

      This extended analog explains why Trump was elected I think.

      1. Deliberately ignoring the analogy, I hate haggling. If someone starts to haggle, I’ll turn and walk away, because I know I’ll end up paying too much, and will always have buyer’s remorse.

        1. UCS, how do you buy automobiles or real property then?

          I understand that haggling sucks, but aren’t there some arenas where you have to do it, or end up getting screwed even more?

          1. Yes, prostitution comes to mind. And that’s when one is trying to get screwed more.

          2. I use the internet to identify the typical price and then request bids from multiple dealers.

            I am not typically interested in the car that has been on the lot for 23 months and is therefore the best target for haggling. Typically that car can be had for a hefty discount off the MSRP, but the reason it is on the lot is that it has a lot of features I don’t want at any price.

            For houses, you can typically identify some sort of pricing reference point.

            Where I hate haggling is when I have no frame of reference, such as the carpet example. I don’t buy enough carpets to know what they are intrinsically worth.

            1. When buying a house earlier this year, the one guy I did try to negotiate with wanted an impossible – a net return of almost his asking price. I walked away and found a better house with a lower asking price. I offered asking on that and now I live there. The previous owner paid off the remnant of their previous mortgage and had no reason to wait for someone else’s bid to come in.

              That’s not to say I bought the house on an impulse buy it was more of “the feature that lowered the market value by its absense was not a feature I valued or am distressed by its absense.”

              I know this is technically a dead thread, but I figured I’d answer the question asked.

      2. Sheik Jeb! in same souk would offer ninety dinars, and end up walking out the souk paying 130 dinars for it.
        “Yrja alttasfiq.”

      3. Sheik GasyJasy pays full price for the carpet, then loses it in an opium den on the way home.

        Sheik Stein sneaks into the stall and spraypaints NO PIPELINE on all the carpets. She is henceforth banned from the souk.

        1. Oh come one, that was set up for you.

          Sheikh GJ: “What’s a ‘sook’?”

          1. Look, if i wanted to take the easy route all the time, would i have chosen libertarianism as my political philosophy?

            1. Er…

              I stand chastened, effendi. Please accept my third most beautiful camel as payment for the offense.

              1. Salaam alaikum, al-Stickler al-Zagloba.

      4. “Write him up, Chumlee.”

      5. I’m not exactly endorsing your analysis, I’m just saying it’s better than 97% of the political analysis on TV and the Internet.

      6. Sheikh Bill “al-Geld” al-Weld joins the souk as a business partner, and when the main souk owner is away tells all the customers that their rugs are moth-eaten and no good, and that for the good of the whole marketplace the customer would be best off going to the competitor’s souk the next row down.

  20. RE: Trump Could Resurrect a Failed Bush-Era Screening Program for Muslim Immigrants
    The NSEERS program screened more than 93,000 immigrants over nine years but failed to catch a single potential terrorist.

    All Muslim immigrants are terrorists.
    President Trump said so.
    That’s all you little people need to know.

  21. The purpose of this program is to radicalize people. That it failed is a testament to the peaceful nature of Muslims (no different from anyone else, at least). We can expect this program to return, with lots of bells and whistles. Trump is a genius at instigation and incitement. He is the master baiter.

    1. Islam is a religion of peace…and Brutus is an honorable man.

  22. The NSEERS program screened more than 93,000 immigrants over nine years but failed to catch a single potential terrorist.

    I also pay lots of money on insurance, and yet i’ve been hit by a bus or had my home destroyed in a fire. What a failure!

    I’m not suggesting this thing – whatever it is beyond ‘more of what they already do’ – is necessarily good.

    But the standard being applied here to try and measure its value is whether anybody was *convicted of terror*.

    Which seems to me like a cherry-picked stat; how many were deported? how many were barred entry? Simply picking one number and declaring the thing entirely useless seems to be a very shallow and self-serving approach.

    The problem i see with these criticisms of Muslim-specific screening/profiling… is that they conflate 2 different issues = “Is it Effective?” and “Is it Wrong?”

    Is it wrong to screen/profile muslim immigrants specifically? Then make that case.

    the counter argument ends up being, “well, should the govt treat EVERYONE like a potential terrorist then?” Because they will (and do)

    Is it effective to screen muslims, separate from ‘non-muslims’? Its suggested here the answer is “no”. But i’m not sure that “anecdotes” reflect an honest attempt at due-dilligence on that question.

    1. (sigh)

      ive never been hit

    2. I also now see that a half-dozen people have made more or less the same point already.

  23. The question is what benefit these people bring. America will get along just fine without Muslim immigrants from the Middle East. There’s virtually know benefit that isn’t overwhelmed by cost.

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  27. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

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  29. failed to catch a single potential terrorist

    Bullshit. *Everybody* is a potential terrorist.

  30. Why don’t we have immigration in on the same terms as immigration out to the country the immigrant is trying emigrate from? In other words, make immigration into the US as easy or as hard as it would be for a US citizen to immigrate to the country immigrant A is trying to come from? That is until we can get everything sorted out, which is never. In the end, we don’t need that many more poor and tired, we got plenty here already. And, if we can’t pick up and go to XYZland with a snap, XYZer A can face the same uphill slope coming here. Apply it equally across the board, so no brown, yellow, black, olive, beige issues. Algorithmic and not personal.

    But DO ask them if they plan on blowing anything up, and if they say yes don’t let them in. I suppose a decision tree is in order.

  31. How many terrorists did it let through , that would also be a very legitimate way to evaluate success after the fact.

    1. Logically, that could only show the degree to which it failed. Meaning, it would be possible to say: person A ended up committing a terrorist act — now let’s look through the books and see if they were logged in the system. Since the program was in effect from ’02 through ’11, we can say that any person who committed a terrorist act during that time, and who was also a visa holder, and who entered the country legally, not successfully evading the NEERS system, we can say that the system let this person through. There is not, however, much motivation for anyone in the government to do that research — to go to the trouble of showing how the program didn’t work.

      What we can say, is that it failed to preemptively screen out any actual terrorist, and the basis upon which we can reasonably conclude this is that if it had, the accomplishment would have been loudly broadcast by the administration. Another way of putting this is: though it did put thousands of applicants into deportation proceedings, by definition these were not terrorists, because deportation is not what you do with a terrorist.

  32. One thing I would like, though, is a little better screening of people whose fathers walk into American consulates or embassies in Nigeria and tell American diplomats that their sons might be contemplating terrorist attacks against us, or people who a foreign intelligence agency tells us have been suspected of linking up with Chechen terrorists during trips abroad, or people who are reported by flight schools as seeming a bit suspicious after announcing they only want to know how to “turn the plane” not how to land it, or people who….

    I mean, from 9/11 to the undie-bomber to the Fort Hood traitor to the Boston bombers to the Orlando night club shooter it turns out again and again and again that the authorities were made aware of suspicious or concerning information about the activities of the attackers prior to the attacks and the authorities drop the ball. I’m tired of that. No, we shouldn’t be setting certain laws for people of a certain religion. But I do expect the authorities to investigate individuals who might be up to something based on specific information.

  33. So continue the current program of leaving the floodgates open with a never ending line of migrants flooding into the country?

    1. You clearly don’t have the first clue about what’s being discussed here.

  34. I wonder.. is the problem with this system bullying so many inherent in the system itself, or rather with the FedGoons that managed it? HOW is it that some goon thugcop on the street can’t look into the individual he’s contacted by some other means, and thus verify the guy is here and OK, AND exempt from registering?
    As to the guy detained then deported.. he DID overstay his visa, come ON, that’s grounds right there for deportation. And he likely knew it.

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  38. Just call it “common sense” immigration control.

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  40. “Though the program was no good at catching terrorists, it did help authorities deport thousands of immigrants, like Daou, who had done nothing worse than overstay their visa.”

    Excuse me but overstaying your visa *is* a deportable offense. Anyone caught overstaying their visa should absolutely be deported. 40% of the people in this country illegally are those who overstayed their visas. Let the deportation begin, muslim or otherwise.

    As for the NSEERS program, I will wait to hear an opinion that says it worked and here’s why before making up my mind. If it doesn’t, scrap it and replace it with something better, but we need to first stop muslims from coming into this country until we get the vetting process sorted out, this includes muslims coming in as “students”, which was how all those 9/11 hijackers came in.

  41. Slam the door. Put the burden of proof on those who want to come here. If they can conclusively prove that they will benefit Americans – and not to the detriment of ANY American, then we’ll consider their application. Else, forget it.

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  44. It seems to have the same success rate as does TSA.
    Perhaps we just need less “smart” people devising and running these programs?

  45. That it didn’t find any terrorist suspects does NOT mean it failed, it might have been a whopping success in discouraging terrorists from even trying. There is no way to know based on the information available.

    I usually expect better from Reason, at, you know, applying logic and reason to a situation.

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