- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

The author of a House bill giving 600,000 state and local police officers authority to enforce federal immigration law wants the Bush administration to abandon plans to grant guest-worker status to millions of illegal aliens now living and working in the United States.

Rep. Charlie Norwood, Georgia Republican and chief sponsor of the Clear Law Enforcement for Alien Removal Act (CLEAR Act), joined with 21 other House Republicans this week in urging President Bush not to grant what they called amnesty to illegal aliens, saying it would be “detrimental to our national and economic security.”

“There is absolutely no doubt this nation’s immigration system is badly broken and needs repair in the worst way,” Mr. Norwood said. “But disregarding the immigration laws already on the books and giving legal status to individuals entering America illegally would only make the problem much worse.

“I’m pleased to join my colleagues in this strong appeal to the administration against giving citizenship to people entering our country illegally; and strongly urge Congress and the president to focus our collective efforts on getting the 80,000 hardened criminal aliens, released by our own federal government, out of our neighborhoods and off our streets,” he said.

In January, Mr. Bush proposed a guest-worker program for illegal aliens in the United States that would allow them to remain if they have jobs and apply as guest workers. Under the proposal, the aliens could stay for an undetermined number of renewable three-year periods, after which they could seek permanent legal status.

Mr. Norwood joined with his Republican colleagues, led by Rep. Elton Gallegly of California, chairman of the House International Relations subcommittee on international terrorism, nonproliferation and human rights, in saying that amnesties “only encourage more people to cross the border illegally” and that national security “dictates that we gain control of our borders.”

He introduced the CLEAR Act in July 2003. With 125 co-sponsors from both parties, it ensures that state and local police have jurisdictional authority to enforce immigration law during the course of their regular duties. It also gives them access to the National Crime Information Center for immigration information.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 80,000 criminal aliens cannot be found and are living within the United States’ borders — including nearly 4,000 of whom have been identified as foreign nationals from countries that support international terrorism.

ICE, because of budgetary restraints, has committed 2,300 agents to find those missing aliens.

Mr. Norwood said ICE needs help in capturing the convicted aliens, who include murderers, rapists, drug dealers and child molesters.

“Sending 2,000 federal agents into the field to find 80,000 criminal aliens is like trying to stop a tidal wave with hand towels. It’s a farce, it doesn’t work and the outmanned folks at ICE — as the numbers now show us — are simply drowning,” Mr. Norwood said.

His bill is pending before the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, border security and claims. In addition to 125 bipartisan congressional co-sponsors, the bill has been endorsed by an overwhelming number of national, regional and local law-enforcement organizations, including the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, and the Southern States Police Benevolent Association.

Others opposed to the guest-worker program were Reps. Lamar Smith, Sam Johnson and John Culberson of Texas; John Hostettler of Indiana; Nathan Deal of Georgia; Ed Royce, Gary G. Miller and Dana Rohrabacher of California; Tom Tancredo of Colorado; John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. of Tennessee; Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland; Kevin Brady of Texas; Robert B. Aderholt of Alabama; Charles W. “Chip” Pickering Jr. of Mississippi; John Sullivan of Oklahoma; J. Gresham Barrett of South Carolina; Barbara Cubin of Wyoming; Sue Myrick and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina; and Steve King of Iowa.

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