Question: I have heard that there is some kind of law out that requires some people from certain countries to register with the INS. Who does this affect and what does it mean?
Answer: You are correct. There is a new procedure referred to as Special Registration. The deadline, if you are a national of one of the designated countries is January 10, 2003. This Notice requires certain nonimmigrant aliens to appear before, register with, and provide requested information to the Immigration and Naturalization Service on or before January 10, 2003. It applies to certain nonimmigrant aliens from one of the countries designated in this Notice who was last admitted to the United States on or before September 30, 2002, and who will remain in the United States until at least January 10, 2003.
The countries originally specified were Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Just recently, the following countries were added to this list of seven. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen who are males between the ages of 16 and 45. Finally, the following 13 countries have been added: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Question: What if one of my friends is a Lawful Permanent Resident or U.S. Citizen from one of those countries? Must he also register?
Answer: No. This is only meant for persons who are on temporary visas in the U.S.
Question: What exactly must be done if a person is from one of the above listed countries to comply with the special registration requirement?
Answer: Registrants must register at the designated INS district office 30 days after they enter the United States and re-register annually. Of course, if they have not yet registered, they must go the INS district office before January 10, 2003. If a registered foreign national leaves the United States for either business or pleasure, he or she must notify the INS of all plans for departure, and depart through one of eighteen pre-approved airports or one of fifty approved land or seaports. This means that they cannot simply leave the U.S. without notifying the INS. Failure to notify the INS of a departure could render a foreign national inadmissible upon return to the United States. These people will be fingerprinted, questioned and photographed.
They must re-register within 10 days of each anniversary. A willful failure to comply with these requirements renders the person deportable from the United States.
Question: When do all these provisions go into effect and does it take some rights away from these people?
Answer: Immediately. As we can see, the U.S. government is becoming more of a ‘big brother’ type government. As with anyone, I would do anything to prevent another terrorist attack. However, I do believe that some constitutional rights are going to be infringed on these people whom have nothing to do with terrorism. The scary part is when these registration requirements spill over onto the general population. We must fight for our constitutional rights and be careful of a government that takes liberties and rights away in the name of national security.