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|9/14: CLEAR Act on House agenda; information and ideas
Released 16 September 2006  By National Immigration Forum
9/14: CLEAR Act on House agenda; information and ideas
From: National Immigration Forum
Over the next two weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives will take up a variety of immigration-related bills. The CLEAR Act will be one of those; we do not know when exactly it will come up. See http://www.gop.gov/docs/september14_republicansunveil.pdf for the complete House immigration agenda. We also do not know the exact legislative language, although we expect that it will be the same as the Norwood amendment to HR 4437 (see amendment 658 to HR 4437).
In December of last year, the CLEAR Act was added to HR 4437 in a floor amendment by Representative Charlie Norwood (R-GA); see http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll656.xml for the vote. I do not believe many Members of Congress who voted for this amendment understood that it was, in fact, the CLEAR Act. You all have done a great job of marshalling opposition to that legislation, which will have the unfortunate consequence of making immigrants less likely to contact state and local police when they are victims or witnesses of crimes. But in the heat of the moment, the bill's supporters were able to frame their proposal as simply re-affirming authority that state and local police have to detain criminals, which we all know is false since the bill goes well beyond criminal law enforcement.
But this time around, the result does not have to be the same. If we can communicate the truth strongly and soon, I am confident we can stop this on the House floor. Even if we fall short of that goal, a robust response will keep this piece of the agenda from advancing beyond the House and potentially becoming law.
Throughout the course of the Congressional 'immigration field hearings' this summer, many elected officials, editorial boards, and community members decried the House's decision to punt on immigration reform instead of sitting down with the Senate and negotiating a final package that would finally solve the problem. With this attempt to pass the CLEAR Act, House leaders are not only putting the major issues off for another day, but pushing the work of enforcing the broken system onto the backs of state and local police. In doing so, it would make their number one mission 'protecting and serving the public' even harder.
I urge you to organize your allies quickly to push back on efforts to pass the CLEAR Act this month in the U.S. House. Sign-on letters, press statements and press conferences, lobbying visits and calls to Congress are all needed to raise awareness about the impact of this legislation. As many have pointed out in the past, it is ironic when Members of Congress push a bill in the name of law enforcement that many state and local police agencies oppose. Many police organizations and state and local governments have asked that Congress consult with them before drafting legislation like this. Yet this reasonable request is apparently being ignored in favor of politics and sound bites against illegal immigration.
Below are some resources you can draw on as you prepare your advocacy. We will be organizing additional work on this issue in the coming days, so please get in touch with me if you need something specific or have ideas!
Resources on State and Local Enforcement of Immigration Laws from Diverse Organizations
(N.B. Circulating these pieces does not imply endorsement of every policy recommendation)
Policy position from Major Cities Chiefs Association
Press release: http://www.houstontx.gov/police/pdfs/mcc_release.pdf
Position paper: http://www.houstontx.gov/police/pdfs/mcc_position.pdf
Policy position from International Association of Chiefs of Police
Press release: http://www.theiacp.org/documents/index.cfm?fuseaction=document&document_type_id=1&document_id=634
Position paper: http://www.theiacp.org/documents/pdfs/Publications/ImmigrationEnforcementconf%2Epdf
Testimony of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (scroll to end for discussion of this issue)
Testimony of Reverend Luis Cortes, Jr., President and CEO of Esperanza USA, a national network of Hispanic Christians, churches, and ministries
Statement from James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation fellow
Advocacy resources from the National Immigration Forum
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