Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security issued a release (full text) removing regulations relating to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). As reported by Vox, in 2011 President Obama had suspended the program, which targeted Muslims, by removing all countries from the list of those to whom the registration requirements apply. The program as it operated after 9-11 required males on non-immigrant visas who are 16 years old or older from 25 countries-- 24 of them Muslim countries-- to register. The much-criticized program led to 13,000 deportations. Yesterday's action completely removes the regulations. The Department of Homeland Security, finding that the data captured under SEERS is now available through other means, concluded that the removal of the old rules is merely procedural to delete "regulations related to an outdated, inefficient, and decommissioned program." DHS was thus able to delete the old rules without going through the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act by invoking the exception for "rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice."
The action, effective with publication in today's Federal Register, means that the incoming Trump Administration, which has variously called for registration of Muslim immigrants, or those entering the U.S. from Muslim countries, will need to go through the full Administrative Procedure Act notice-and-comment requirements to implement a registration system. It will not be able to just reinvigorate SEERS. New York Times also reports on the action by DHS.