WASHINGTON (CN) – Sparking as much consternation in some parts of the country as delight in others, the formation of President-elect Donald Trump's administration has experts forecasting that he intends to pursue many of his immigration proposals.
At NumbersUSA, an education and research foundation that advocates for lower immigration levels, vice president Rosemary Jenks said she is thrilled by the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
Reached on the phone for an interview, Jenks called the Alabama Republican is “a voice of sanity” on immigration.
“He's a voice of reason," she added.
"Senator Sessions has been really the lone voice in the Senate pushing for an immigration policy that serves the interest of American workers," said Jenks, whose other title at NumbersUSA is director of government relations. "Senator Sessions has been an incredibly strong and persistent voice for going back to the recognition that immigration policy is really about labor policy."
Though Jenks sees Sessions as the most influential figure in the formation of President-elect Trump's immigration policy, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has made his mark, too.
Best known for having co-designed an Arizona law sharply criticized as anti-immigrant –SB1070, which contained the “papers, please,” provision – Kobach also contributed in 2002 to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.
Ended by the Department of Homeland Security in 2011, the NSEERS program drew heavy criticism for its requirement to have the government fingerprint and regular monitor noncitizens from 25 countries, most of which are Muslim-majority.
The program resulted in no terror convictions, but it is a key part of the strategic plan for the Department of Homeland Security that Kobach was photographed holding at a Nov. 20 meeting with Trump.
Once reinstated in the first 365 days of Trump's administration, the NSEERS program would track "all aliens from high-risk areas," and would freeze admission of Syrian refugees. The plan also recommends "extreme vetting questions for high-risk aliens" about their support for Sharia, jihad, gender equality and the U.S. Constitution.
The Program Will Still Target Muslims
Immigration lawyer Hassan Ahmad said the NSEERS program was a disaster for some of his clients, and fears that a Kobach revival of the program will not fare any better.
"Essentially NSEERS as it was before in its original form became just a deportation pipeline," Ahmad said in a phone interview.
"It was much ado about nothing," Ahmad said. "It was a bigotry-flavored, self-licking ice cream cone - a bureaucracy that existed only to serve itself," he added.
Since 2004, Kobach has served as legal counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR. The Southern Poverty Law Center has laid out FAIR’s ties to white supremacists and eugenicists, and its attempts to severely limit immigration into the United States.
FAIR did not respond to an interview request for this story.