NY: Caught in a Net Thrown for Terrorists


It was a controversial program from the outset. In the hunt for terrorists after 9/11, the government required men in the United States from more than 20 Muslim-majority countries to be fingerprinted, photographed and questioned at immigration centers. There is much debate over whether the program succeeded in gathering information about terrorist activities. An estimated 83,000 men came forward, but government officials would not say whether any have been charged with terrorism-related offenses, only that a handful were linked to terrorism.

Eventually, the Department of Homeland Security shifted its resources, and in April 2003 the program, known as Special Registration, was largely suspended and forgotten. Still, for many the program has lived on; roughly 13,000 of the men who stepped forward were placed into deportation proceedings after immigration officers discovered that they were living here without legal status. Among them are men like Kamal, Hassan and Housseine Essaheb, three brothers from Queens who fit only the profile of classic immigrant success, minus the proper paperwork. For them, Special Registration is far from over and could soon exact its toll. (MORE)

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