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Obama ending program that tracked Muslim travelers before Trump can use it

President Obama Holds Year-End Press Conference At The White House Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Obama will officially end a controversial Bush-era registration program that largely affected travelers from Muslim-majority nations, the Department of Homeland Security has announced. Donald Trump’s advisers have suggested the program could be revived under his administration, but the preemptive move by Obama may partially head off those efforts.

The program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS, was established in 2002 to flag travelers from select countries for additional scrutiny and restricted travel options. The majority of countries selected were majority Muslim, leading civil liberties activists to claim the program unjustly targeted travelers by religion.

NSEERS was put out of use, but not officially dismantled, in 2011. At the time, DHS said new technology had rendered NSEERS “redundant, inefficient and unnecessary,” a note echoed in the new announcement.

“The regulatory structure pertaining to NSEERS no longer provides a discernable [sic] public benefit as the program has been rendered obsolete,” the DHS announcement, first noted by The New York Times, reads. “Accordingly, DHS is removing the special registration program regulations.”

But advisers close to Trump have suggested reviving NSEERS would be a way to track immigrants. The president-elect recently met with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was photographed with a list of policy proposals that included renewing NSEERS. As president, Trump will still have a wide array of options open to target and track immigrants, but NSEERS, one of the more obvious candidates, won’t be as readily available.