herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Trump team discussing 'register for Muslims'

US President-elect Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
US President-elect Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

An architect of anti-immigration laws, who says he is advising president-elect Donald Trump, said the new US administration could push ahead rapidly on construction of a US-Mexico border wall without seeking immediate congressional approval.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped write tough immigration laws in Arizona and elsewhere, said in an interview that Mr Trump's policy advisers had also discussed drafting a proposal for his consideration to reinstate a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries.

Mr Kobach, who media reports say is a key member of Mr Trump's transition team, said he participated in regular conference calls with about a dozen Trump immigration advisers for the past two to three months. Mr Trump's transition team did not respond to requests for confirmation of Mr Kobach's role. Mr Trump made building a wall on the US-Mexico border a central issue of his campaign and has pledged to step up immigration control.

Mr Kobach said the immigration group had discussed drafting executive orders "so that Trump and Homeland Security hit the ground running".

To implement Mr Trump's call for "extreme vetting" of some Muslim immigrants, Mr Kobach said the immigration policy group could recommend the reinstatement of a national registry of immigrants and visitors who enter the US on visas from countries where extremist organizations are active.

Design

Mr Kobach helped design the program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), while serving in former president George W Bush's Department of Justice after the 9/11 attacks.

Under NSEERS, people from countries deemed "higher risk" were required to undergo interrogations and fingerprinting on entering the United States.

NSEERS was abandoned in 2011 after it was deemed redundant by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Meanwhile, one day Mr Trump's first meeting with a foreign leader, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese officials said they had not finalized when or where in New York it would take place, who would be invited, or in some cases whom to call for answers.

Uncertainty over the talks shows the difficulties in turning Trump from a businessman into a sitting president with a watertight schedule and a fully functioning administration by his inauguration on January 20.

Japanese and US officials said the State Department had not been involved in planning the meeting, leaving the logistical and protocol details that normally would be settled far in advance still to be determined.

"There has been a lot of confusion," said one Japanese official.

A State Department spokesman said that Trump's team had not been in contact to discuss the transition of government or to seek information ahead of his meetings with foreign leaders.

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