Reclaiming America: HR 4437—A CLEAR Victory, If We Can Keep It
The shock of the House action which
passed a true immigration reform bill last Friday,
December 16th was heard all the way down to the lowliest
P/R department person in
corporate America and in every
ethnic lobbyist`s office. It truly was a major
Known as the
Clear Act, introduced by U.S. Representative Charlie
Norwood (R-GA), it represented, according to
his news release, a " big victory " after
"a nearly three-year lobbying campaign to address
America`s criminal alien crisis."
His amendment to HR 4437 passed by
a bipartisan 238-180 margin. The overall bill, HR 4437,
is expected to be sent to conference with Senate
immigration reform legislation, and if the two Houses
agree to a final bill, the CLEAR Act (Clear Law
Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act) provisions
could become law sometime next year. A similar bill has
been already introduced in the Senate.
the anti reform spinning immediately began. The December
18th Washington Post piece,
Analysts: Crackdown Won`t Halt Immigration by
Michael A. Fletcher and Darryl Fears, gathered
supposedly unbiased opinion from the White House, whose
chief resident is laying siege on the US Senate to make
11 million illegals already here into permanent
residents. And several other NGOs including the
Brookings, which has a well known bias against
immigration reform and deep Democratic Party roots. Or
Migration Policy Institute whose articles are
embraced by the
Manhattan Institute, whose Tamar Jacoby writes
regularly urging amnesty. This initial chorus of opinion
basically opines that enforcement alone won`t stop
immigration and that it doesn`t consider the effect of
our demand for labor.
mean paying $25,000 for each illegal on your payroll
won`t be noticed?
We know those arguments from way
back. You know, "Pay less to Americans, so they won`t
work for starvation wages, then claim all those
starving slaves from Mexico, who will work for half
or less than U.S. workers, are needed and that there is
labor shortage in America."
Let`s look briefly at the many good
things CLEAR does: It removes all legal doubt that local
law enforcement agencies are approved to enforce federal
immigration law during the course of routine duties. It
also provides full federal funding for immigration law
enforcement training, increases existing federal funding
for local enforcement costs in dealing with criminal
illegal immigrants (SCAAP),
mandates that information on criminal aliens be placed
in the National Criminal Information Center database (NCIC),
and requires all states to comply with the Institutional
Removal Program to automatically deport illegal aliens
convicted of crimes following their jail terms.
The passage of the amendment also
marked the first time that the House has approved a
recorded vote to withhold federal funds from local
governments that refuse to allow enforcement of federal
immigration laws, creating "sanctuaries" where
illegal immigrants, including criminal aliens, can avoid
arrest for immigration violations. The CLEAR Act
amendments allow an additional
700,000 state and local officers to join the fight.
Norwood noted, "There is no way
2,000 ICE agents can track down 400,000
CRIMINAL aliens of whom 85,000 are violent felons,
and to which we`re adding 40,000 new thugs every year."
Norwood says he will now push
members of that body to either approve the Sessions bill
or agree to the House Amendment in conference action.
The bill also would significantly
strengthen enforcement by building sections of
double walls along more than a third of the
2,000-mile southern border and incorporating more
high-tech tools, including sensors, radar, satellites
and unmanned drones, to enhance patrols.
Perhaps most important, Clear would
discourage the hiring of
illegal workers by intensifying
enforcement against employers, who would have to
confirm the authenticity of employees`
Social Security numbers against a national database
or face fines of as much as $25,000 per violation.
This latter provision is what
really raises corporate hackles. To those who claim this
bill won`t work, I say, "Let`s try it, 80% of
Americans like it." Not only would employers be
fined–maybe not heavily enough—but the bill would
require that undocumented immigrants apprehended in the
United States be held in
detention facilities until they are deported.
The bottom line remains what the
Senate passes next year and can come out of the
conference. Its bill is widely expected to include
enhanced enforcement measures and a huge
White House pushed/business-lobbied-for
guest worker program.
Rumor has it that when in
House/Senate conference, amnesty will get larded on big
time and many of the CLEAR features will be made fuzzy,
a hallmark of bills such as McCain/Kennedy.
CLEAR has rough sailing ahead. But
as a true representation of the vast majority of
Americans` wishes, it is a great start.
If the Congressional elite and the
White House go against the people`s wishes again in the
final legislation, the mid-term elections could be a
time for massive retirements. Don`t worry, Senators,
immigration now has our attention and we will be
watching closely. We`re in the CLEAR, so let`s stay
Donald A. Collins [email
him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.