Trump’s Muslim registry wouldn’t be illegal, constitutional law experts say

The day after Donald Trump won the White House, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote on Twitter that if the president-elect attempts “to implement his unconstitutional campaign promises, we’ll see him in court.”

But when it comes to the immigrant registration program that would target Muslims entering the United States — outlined Wednesday by an adviser to Trump’s transition team — three constitutional lawyers say the ACLU won’t have much of a shot before a judge.

That program, labeled the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, required those entering the U.S. from a list of certain countries — all but one predominantly Muslim — to register when they arrived in the U.S., undergo more thorough interrogation and be fingerprinted. The system, referred to by the acronym NSEERS, was criticized by civil rights groups for targeting a religious group and was phased out in 2011 because it was found to be redundant with other immigration systems.

Robert McCaw, director of government affairs for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said a reinstitution of NSEERS would be akin to “just turning back the clock.” CAIR will lobby heavily against the system as not only discriminatory but also ineffective, McCaw said, if it ends up being proposed by the Trump administration.

He also accused Kobach, an architect of the original NSEERS program when he was with the Justice Department under the George W. Bush administration, of having “a long ax to grind with the Muslim community.”