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Dear Editor:
The following press release was submitted by the office of Rep. Norwood (R-GA).

US Representative Charlie Norwood (GA-09) today introduced a bill that addresses the growing U.S. criminal alien crisis by allowing the over 600,000 state and local law enforcement officials in the field to enforce immigration laws during the course of exercising their regular duties. The bipartisan bill, entitled the Clear Law Enforcement for criminal Alien Removal Act of 2003 (or CLEAR Act), brings clarity and coordination to our national immigration system and support and relief to the roughly 2,000 Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) agents charged with enforcing immigration laws on the books. "There are upwards of 400,000 individuals who have received final deportation orders that are hiding in our communities," said Norwood. "Their appeals have run out, and the orders tell them, 'it's time to go.' But, the out-manned Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement can't find them! What's worse, 80,000 of those people have criminal convictions. They were in the hands of law enforcement, but were released back onto the streets. Can you imagine opening the doors of our prisons and letting 80,000 criminals run back into the streets? That's exactly what's happened with these 80,000 criminals" Today's broken enforcement system has left our state and local law enforcement community increasingly unclear on whether they hold the jurisdictional power to enforce our federal immigration laws. The CLEAR Act clarifies that our state and local officers have the inherent authority to arrest and detain criminal and illegal aliens during the normal course of their duty. Additionally, the bill provides these officers with the appropriate funding and training to adequately enforce the immigration laws, and full access to a new National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database containing the records of any and all violators of immigration law. The CLEAR Act also creates a new system for BICE to take custody, process, and remove illegal aliens. Additionally, it produces a system of accountability by requiring the federal government to either take custody of illegal aliens or else pay the locality to detain the aliens. "Right now if a local officer in my hometown, during the normal course of his or her duty, pulls over a car for speeding, with someone who is illegally in our country, they have to call BICE, verify their status, and wait until someone from BICE comes to pick them up," added Norwood. "Sometimes they have to wait for hours on the roadside for the pickup to arrive. But most of the time BICE says they're too busy to come by - telling the police to let the lawbreakers go. That is as wrong as the day is long and it's high time we fixed it." In addition to Norwood, original cosponsors of the CLEAR Act include US Representatives Allen Boyd (FL-02), Nathan Deal (GA-10), and Melissa Hart (PA-04). For a statement of Rep. Norwood on The CLEAR Act of 2003, please see this document. For the facts on The CLEAR Act of 2003, please see this document.

Duke Hipp
Press Secretary, Rep. Norwood (R-GA)