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|1/10: Stop the CLEAR Act from Becoming Law ! Write Your Senators Now!
Released 11 January 2006  By National Immigration Forum
Stop the CLEAR Act from Becoming Law ! Write Your Senators Now!
From: National Immigration Forum
January 10, 2006
In the last update to this list-serv, we reported that in December the House of Representatives approved the CLEAR Act as part of the Sensenbrenner-King immigration restriction bill, HR 4437. The CLEAR Act was added as a floor amendment, even though other provisions in the original legislation also encouraged state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws.
This is a dangerous package for law enforcement officers who rely on tips, information, and cooperation from immigrants in their communities. If the Sensenbrenner-King bill becomes law, those sources will dry up, and we will all be less safe as a result.
In the previous Congress you were able to stop CLEAR from becoming law by working with state and local police departments, law enforcement associations, state and local governments, and crime victim advocates to communicate that this legislation harms, not helps, community safety. Members of Congress look pretty silly pushing an 'enforcement' bill when it is opposed by these key constituencies, and for good reason--this is anti-enforcement legislation!
The Senate is poised to take up immigration legislation early on this year. The only way the CLEAR Act will be kept out of any final immigration reform package negotiated between the House and Senate is if we mobilize, yet again, and tell our senators why this legislation is bad for our states and communities.
Please go back to your state and local government, law enforcement, and crime victim advocacy organizations and ask them to add their voices to round 2 of the debate. The Senate may act on immigration legislation as early as February. Letters from these key constituencies as well as your own organizations are crucial to convincing senators that they should not approve provisions like the CLEAR Act.
These letters should be sent to your state's U.S. Senators, as well as Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter. His fax number is 202.224.9102. If you do not know how to contact your Senators, visit www.senate.gov or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202.224.3121.
The basic message to your Senators is this: When the Senate takes up immigration reform in 2006, provisions like the CLEAR Act that make state and local police into immigration agents should not be included. This legislation is dangerous to public safety, because it discourages members of our communities from reporting crimes and assisting in investigations. Also, by having state and local police enforce federal civil immigration laws, it sends them after people with minor paperwork violations instead of the real criminals and bad guys preying on our communities.
Talking points to use in the letters can be found at http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=230
(please note, this is an older web page, but the basic arguments are valid).
Letters from the last Congress, which you can use as samples, are available at: http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=567
For more information, see the following:
Summary of HR 4437, from the American Immigration Lawyers Association: http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=18258
'Lowlights' of HR 4437 from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center: http://www.ilrc.org/HR4437.html
Summary of the CLEAR Act (HR 3137) and its Senate counterpart (S 1362), from the National Immigration Law Center and National Council of La Raza: http://www.nilc.org/immlawpolicy/LocalLaw/index.htm
More on HR 4437: http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=777#Info
More on real immigration reform: http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=732
An advocacy toolkit on the CLEAR Act is being prepared by the National Council of La Raza and other organizations.
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MPI Report Offers First Look at Police Use of Immigration Records in the NCIC Database from 2002-2004
A new report authored by NYU School of Law for the Migration Policy Institute provides a first glimpse of data on the use of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database by state and local police to enforce immigration law. It is available at http://www.migrationpolicy.org/news/2005_12_08.php
The Administration's efforts to deputize state and local police departments in the systematic enforcement of routine immigration violations after the attacks of September 11th, 2001, marked a sea change law enforcement practice. Originally advanced as a tool to catch terrorists, the program has instead led to thousands of erroneous detentions, and appear to divert scarce police resources from true public safety goals. In addition, the program threatens to undermine community trust in the public servants charged with their protection and opens the door to civil rights violations such as racial profiling.
The findings in the report come from analyzing the government's own records on the use of the NCIC immigration files by state and local police from 2002 to 2004. This information was released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partial settlement to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The records reveal that the individuals impacted by the program are primarily Latino and increasingly female. The form of the records also allowed us to examine activity by state and locale. Key findings include:
- 42% of all immigration "hits" in response to a police query were "false positives," where DHS was unable to confirm that the individual was an actual immigration violator.
- 92% of immigration violators identified in a statistically significant sample of immigration detentions through use of the NCIC were from Latin America or the Caribbean. 71% alone were from Mexico.
- The number of "absconders," or persons allegedly subject to a final order of deportation who have remained in the country, identified annually through use of the NCIC has increased by nearly 25-fold from
2002 to 2004. Police have identified no NSEERS or "Special Registration violators" through use of the NCIC.
- On a statewide basis, law enforcement in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and New York used the NCIC immigration files the most.
- Statewide, Nebraska and South Carolina law enforcement used the NCIC immigration files the most in relation to the state's population of undocumented immigrants.
- Of individual police departments, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles Police Department, as well as other southern California departments, contacted DHS the most in response to NCIC immigration hits. The Phoenix Police Department, the Texas State Police, and the New York Police Department rounded out the top of the list.
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