The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996 added the 287(g) provision that allows the Department of Homeland Security to enter into contracts with state and local law enforcement agencies. The provision provides training for local officers who will help enforce immigration law under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As of August 2008, there were 63 local municipalities that were part of the 287(g) program.
State and local police are badly needed to help overwhelmed federal immigration authorities apprehend and detain illegal aliens in the interior of our country. Illegal aliens currently outnumber federal immigration agents by 5,000 to one, and only 2,000 federal agents are active in enforcing the immigration laws in the interior of our country. Clearly, those numbers indicate that a limited number of federal agents are incapable of apprehending a majority of an estimated 12–20 million illegal aliens currently inside our nation's borders and would benefit from the assistance of the more than 600,000 state and local law enforcement officers nationwide who come into contact with illegal aliens every day. Many police officers routinely observe and even stop illegal aliens for violations of the law, however, those who arrest illegal aliens and proceed to contact federal immigration officials are all too often told to release the offenders unless a non-immigration offense is involved. This practice has commonly become known as “catch and release.” Even more troublesome is the fact that some police officers are prohibited by state or local laws or policies from cooperating with federal officials, a tactic adopted by some state and local governments that favor ensuring the well-being of illegal aliens rather than protecting law abiding American citizens from unnecessary harm and the adverse effects of illegal immigration on their communities.
Immigration law falls under federal code, so immigration enforcement falls under the federal government's domain. But several states and local municipalities have taken immigration enforcement into their own hands by passing legislation that prevents illegal aliens from accessing certain public benefits, i.e., in-state tuition rates and driver's licenses.
Several states have passed legislation requiring employers to use E-Verify. E-Verify is an employment verification tool managed by the Department of Homeland Security that uses information from the Social Security Administration and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to determine an applicant's eligibility to work.
The CLEAR ACT
State and local police are badly needed to help overwhelmed federal immigration authorities apprehend and detain illegal aliens in the interior of our country.
- Only about 5,000 active agents are enforcing immigration laws in the interior of the country
- There are 11-18 million illegal aliens in the United States with hundreds of thousands more arriving every year
- Illegal aliens outnumber federal immigration agents 2,200-to-1
- More than 600,000 state and local law enforcement officers come into contact with illegal aliens every day
- Many state and local officers are unsure of their authority when they come in contact with illegal aliens who have committed no additional crimes
- Some state and local policies even forbid officers from cooperating with federal immigration agents, despite a federal law prohibiting such policies
The CLEAR Act (H.R.2406) clarifies state and local officers' authority to detain illegal aliens and requires the federal government to respond to state and local requests to pick up and remove the illegal aliens.
Introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on May 14, 2009, the CLEAR Act:
- Increases SCAAP funds for communities that work with, and not against, federal immigration enforcement efforts, and recognizes the important role local governments’ play in securing our homeland;
- Provides recognition of inherent state and local law enforcement authority to help enforce immigration law, but leaves it up to individual agencies to determine how big a role they will play;
- Improves information sharing with the federal government;
- Sets requirements for the federal government to expeditiously remove criminal aliens; and
- Increases federal resources for local governments that choose to assist in immigration enforcement.
Previous versions of the CLEAR Act: