By Harry Tamrazian in Prague
In an unexpected move last Friday, the United States Department of Justice added Armenia to a list of countries whose non-immigrant nationals over the age of 16 residing in the United States would be required to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Armenia’s inclusion to the list caused an uproar in the Armenian community in United States. A spokeswoman for the Armenian National Committee of America told RFE/RL that Armenian-American lobbying groups protested to the Bush administration, demanding that the decision be reversed.
Armenian-American sources in Washington indicated that although Armenia was included in the federal registry list, the Justice Department admitted that it was a mistake. They said after intense negotiations over the weekend between the government of Armenia, Armenian-American organizations and the Justice Department as well as some Bush administration officials, Armenians were told that the mistake would be corrected immediately and that Armenia will not be included in the list.
The list was compiled after the September 11 terrorist attack, and included the following countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The countries in the list were believed to be representing a certain risk to U.S. national security. If included in the list, Armenia would have been the only Christian country the non-immigrant citizens of which are required to register with local INS bodies.