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Catholic organizations, faith groups glad to see end of Muslim registry


A man near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland holds a pack of chewing gum called '"Islamophobin." The packaging attempts to bring attention to the issue of anti-Muslim attitudes in the United States. (CNS photo/Justin Lane, EPA)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic organizations and other faith groups say they are happy with the Obama administration's last-minute decision to end a type of national Muslim registry.

The National Security Exit-Entry Registration System, known as NSEERS, began under the George W. Bush administration following the 9/11 attacks and asked that men from some countries in the Middle East register with the U.S. government when they arrived in the U.S. It continued during President Barack Obama's two terms in office even as organizations, including Catholic groups, have long called for its demise.

In late December, weeks before his administration comes to a close, Obama announced that the program was ending under his watch.

"I'm glad the president took action to end a program that by all accounts wasn't effective and undermined core American values," said John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, an advocacy group in Washington.

Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., known by the acronym CLINIC and based in Silver Spring, Maryland, said the decision was a victory.

"Not only was it discriminatory" and failed to lead to the capture of terrorists, said CLINIC Executive Director Jeanne Atkinson in a Dec. 22 news release, but also it broke apart families as people were deported, some for causes such as being a day late after having to tend to an emergency.

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