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[Congressional Record: September 23, 2003 (House)]
[Page H8468-H8469]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                         THE CLEAR ACT OF 2003

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Norwood) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. NORWOOD. Mr. Speaker, earlier this month was a very somber time 
for our Nation, in fact, for all freedom-loving people. It was 2 years 
ago this month that America and the world watched in horror as 
terrorist thugs took the lives of an estimated 3,000 innocent people on 
American soil. Our worst fears were realized, our very way of life was 
challenged, and our world was changed on that day, perhaps forever. In 
the days, weeks, months, and now years that have followed, our Nation 
has responded to that challenge. In the war on terrorism that ensued 
and continues today, we have led the free world in rooting out these 
terrorist thugs and in holding accountable those who would harbor and 
aid them in their insidious pursuits. The challenge and cost has been 
great, but the stakes are even greater. This is a war we simply cannot 
afford to lose.
  Still, Mr. Speaker, for all we have done and all we are doing at home 
and abroad to secure our homeland, there is a troubling and growing 
crisis within our borders that has been largely ignored and presents 
another challenge in securing our homeland that simply must be met. It 
is a crisis that has created countless innocent victims and that 
continues to put our Nation's citizens and law enforcement officers in 
greater and unnecessary danger with each passing day it is not 
  Mr. Speaker, the crisis I am referring to is America's criminal alien 
crisis. The sad fact is our own badly broken immigration system has 
created this very crisis; and the numbers, quite frankly, are 
staggering and shocking. First, consider the staggering. Today, there 
are roughly 400,000 individuals living in the United States who have 
received their final deportation orders to go, but have not left. Why 
have they not left? It is pretty simple. It is because our Federal 
Government does not know where they are. Now for the truly

[[Page H8469]]

shocking. Of the 400,000 individuals that should have been deported, 
80,000 of those are criminal aliens, meaning that they have been 
charged and convicted of committing criminal acts, some of which 
include the most heinous and atrocious deeds one can possibly imagine. 
Yet these 80,000 convicted criminals, rapists, murderers, pedophiles 
and the like among them, who were in the hands of law enforcement 
officials, were simply turned loose because of an outmanned, 
inefficient, and unaccountable immigration system that is failing both 
the law-abiding citizens of our Nation who live here legally and 
peacefully and the courageous, hardworking men and women who wear the 
badge who protect us who must face the prospects of arresting and 
rearresting these criminals over and over again.
  Mr. Speaker, it is also worth noting, again looking back at earlier 
this month's somber anniversary, that an estimated 3,800 of these 
individuals are from countries with a known presence of al Qaeda. 
Unfortunately, America's criminal alien crisis has been allowed to 
continue and worsen because our Federal Government and this Congress 
are not serious about addressing it. Today there are only 2,000 Federal 
agents who have the job of finding any of the 400,000 I mentioned 
earlier. Mr. Speaker, that is not a fair fight, and it is not the right 
message to send to the American people.
  Recently, along with the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Boyd), the 
gentlewoman from Pennsylvania (Ms. Hart), and the gentleman from 
Georgia (Mr. Deal), I introduced the CLEAR Act. This is a bill that 
makes clear that our Nation's 600,000 local and State law enforcement 
officers have the authority to enforce immigration laws, gives those 
600,000 men and women wearing the badge the training, access to data 
and appropriate funding they deserve, and gives the 2,000 Federal 
agents in the field the assistance they so badly need.

                              {time}  1945

  And that, finally, provides the needed accountability that our 
immigration system has lacked for far too long.
  Mr. Speaker, I encourage my colleagues to join me in sending a strong 
message that this Congress is serious about protecting Americans from 
this crisis within our own borders, and I encourage my colleagues to 
support the CLEAR Act.