Law Enforcement Association Opposes CLEAR Act Proposal
December 2, 2004

CLEAR, or Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal, is a federal legislative proposal currently under consideration in Washington, which includes provisions that would impose mandatory financial penalties on local governments that do not actively enforce federal immigration laws. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has recently announced its opposition to this proposal, urging Congress to allow State and Local government agencies greater latitude in determining whether to opt in on immigration law enforcement measures.

Included in proposed CLEAR Act provisions is a measure whereby the federal government would withhold federal assistance funding for states that do not authorize their own state and local law enforcement agencies to participate in immigration law enforcement. The IACP believes this sort of sanction is imprudent and coercive, arguing that states and local government agency participation should instead be voluntary and that financial incentives should be provided to those agencies choosing to participate – rather than taking away funding from those states choosing not to participate.

According to IACP, the choice of a state government to opt in on federal immigration enforcement must be arrived at very carefully, since such participation may very well end up impairing a local community’s ability to enforce other laws. Most notably, such a program will serve to discourage the cooperation of illegal aliens living in a particular community who may otherwise be willing to report a crime or assist police in criminal investigations but fear being apprehended themselves for non-criminal, immigration violations.

Instead of imposing penalties on those states not participating, the IACP suggests that federal funding should be increased for states choosing to participate, so as to allow local law enforcement agencies the financial means to cover the additional personnel costs involved as well as the budgetary burdens of training its officers on relevant immigration law provisions.

To this point, the CLEAR Act legislative proposal is still pending in Congress.

State Department: EB-3 Visa Retrogression is Likely

Unlike family based applicants, its been a long time since foreign nationals seeking US permanent residence by way of a job offer have faced visa availability obstacles. That is, all of the employment based immigrant visa categories have remained “current,” and that employment based immigrant visa applicants have not been burdened with processing delays other than typical U.S. Department of Labor and/or INS (now CIS) processing times. However, due to the increased demand on employment based immigrant visas for skilled workers and professionals, including RN’s, PT’s, and other healthcare workers, the U.S. State Department has announced that the imposition of visa cut-off dates for the employment based, third preference (EB-3) category is likely to take place by January, 2005. Further news regarding EB-3 visa availability will continue to be reported in this column.

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