Donald Trump’s policy advisers are discussing plans to establish a registry for Muslim immigrants in the US, a man believed to be a key member of the President-elect’s transition team has revealed.
Kris Kobach, the secretary of state for Kansas, said the President-elect’s advisers were looking at how to implement a proposal suggested by the billionaire businessman that would force immigrants from Muslim countries to register on a database.
Mr Kobach, who helped devise tough immigration laws in a number of US states and claims to have participated in regular conference calls with Mr Trump’s immigration advisers, also said the Trump administration could push ahead rapidly on construction of a US-Mexico border wall without seeking immediate congressional approval.
The Muslim registration scheme, which would reportedly see Muslims given a form of identification that notes their religion, reflects policies Mr Trump put forward during his campaign to introduce “extreme vetting” of Muslims through tougher security measures.
Such a programme would echo a registration system created under Mr Bush’s presidency, which Mr Kobach also helped design, and which required thousands of Arab and Muslim visitors and temporary US residents to register with the state, but was abandoned in 2011 after it was criticised for unfairly targeting immigrants from Muslim-majority nations.
Created in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEER) required Muslims from countries where extremist organisations were active to provide information about themselves, undergo interviews with officials and periodically notify the government of their whereabouts.
The registration programme, which focused on visitors and non-citizen men over the age of 16 from more than 24 designated countries, caused widespread controversy and was deemed redundant in 2011, following complaints from civil libertarians.
In the interview, Mr Kobach said immigration advisers were also looking at how the Homeland Security Department could move rapidly on Mr Trump’s plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico without approval from Congress, acknowledging that “future fiscal years will require additional appropriations”.
Mr Trump presented a hardline stance on Muslims in the US during his election campaign, making a call to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country and proposing the introduction of special identity cards for American Muslims during a debate over Syrian refugees entering the country.
While Mr Trump appeared to have pulled back on the anti-Muslim rhetoric immediately after he was elected, he has since indicated he still plans to follow through on his plans.
In an interview on Sunday Mr Trump told CBS’s 60 Minutesshow he would deport two to three million undocumented immigrants “immediately” upon taking office, and confirmed he still planned to “build a wall”, although he added that some parts of the barrier would in fact be a fence.
The President-elect is also reportedly considering appointing as his deputy security advisor the vice-president of a think-tank that has said Muslims are infiltrating the American government.
Mr Kobach reportedly said in the interview that he believed that illegal immigrants in some cases should be deported before a conviction if they have been charged with a violent crime, echoing Mr Trump’s recent pledge to remove immigrants with criminal records who are in the country illegally.
The immigration hardliner also said the President-elect’s immigration advisers had discussed ways of overturning President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive action that has granted temporary deportation relief and work permits to more than 700,000 undocumented people who came to the US as children of illegal immigrants.