The US Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday it is cancelling an inactive registry programme for visitors from countries where extremist groups are operating, a plan similar to a Muslim registry considered by President-elect Donald Trump.
The National Security Entry-Exit Registration Systems programme, known as NSEERS, was suspended in 2011, DHS spokesman Neema Hakim said in a statement.
He said the programme was determined to be redundant and inefficient and did not provide increased security.
“The intervening years have shown that NSEERS is not only obsolete but that its use would divert limited personnel and resources from more effective measures,” Hakim said.
The department is formally ending the programme by removing outdated regulations in a rule change, he said.
The rule was scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Friday and will be effective immediately, a DHS official said.
Trump was asked on Wednesday whether he would support a Muslim registry, similar to the dormant DHS programme, and he would not confirm or deny his plans to do so.
Several Trump transition aides have told Reuters the incoming Trump administration will not resurrect the programme, although a key Trump immigration adviser, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, has advocated the idea.
The announcement comes as a growing number of prominent tech companies including Facebook, Twitter, Apple have told various news organisations that they would not help the Trump administration build a Muslim registry.
Earlier this month, employees at various technology companies also signed an online pledge vowing not to help Trump build a data registry to track people based on their religion or assist in mass deportations. The petition has been signed by more than 2,500 employees.
The Obama administration’s decision to formally end the programme drew praise from critics who said it was discriminatory.
“I applaud President Obama for his decision to dismantle NSEERS, the idle and ineffective federal registry that targeted Muslims and undermined our core values,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee welcomed the decision to ends NSEERS, which it called a “failed programme rooted in discriminatory profiling.”
At one point in his campaign, Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country as a means of fighting terrorism. That drew widespread criticism at home and abroad and Trump revised his proposal to suspending immigration from regions deemed as exporting terrorism and where safe vetting could not be assured.