AJC Statement on the CLEAR Act

As adopted by the Board of Governors, December 6, 2004

The CLEAR (Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal) Act is proposed legislation that seeks to expand the role state and local authorities currently play in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. While states traditionally have been permitted to directly enforce criminal immigration provisions, the act would permit state and local law enforcement officers to enforce civil immigration laws (such as investigating, apprehending, detaining or removing undocumented aliens), convert some immigration law violations that are currently civil in nature into federal crimes, and allow the National Crimes Information Center database to be used for immigration law enforcement purposes. The Act would also require state and local jurisdictions to enact statutes that expressly authorize their law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws, or risk losing federal funds.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) is committed more than ever to efforts to increase the security of our nation's borders, and recognizes the need for improvements in the system that tracks foreign nationals who enter and leave the United States. However, we are concerned that the proposed legislation will hinder rather than bolster local law enforcement's efforts to make us more secure. It could, in fact, negatively impact the safety of our streets and communities by requiring authorities to spend precious time making complex determinations of immigration status, destroy fundamental relationships that police have cultivated with their communities, increase incidents of racial profiling, and overwhelm already overextended state and local police forces.

For the foregoing reasons, AJC opposes the CLEAR Act legislation.
As adopted by the Board of Governors, December 6, 2004
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