A CLEAR Solution to the Criminal Alien Crisis

Jose Lachira Carranza is an illegal immigrant with a violent past. His rap sheet includes at least three felony arrests and includes the rape of a five year old girl. He has been through the penal system, sat before a judge, and subsequently released onto the streets of New Jersey on bail three separate times.

Yet, Mr. Carranza is now the prime suspect in an early August Newark slaying of three college students; an execution from point blank range.

How did this tragedy come to pass? Newark city law prohibits local law enforcement officials from communicating with Federal authorities regarding individuals’ immigration status. This glaring void means that police officials lack the information necessary to protect their communities from violent criminal aliens.

In Washington, folks call these locally adopted statutes “sanctuary policies.” In Tennessee, we call them a violation of common sense.

Preventing similar tragedies will require cooperation between local governments and the Department of Homeland Security, but it also requires legislation to create an efficient system to identify and remove violent criminal aliens. This is why I introduced the Charlie Norwood CLEAR Act of 2007.

This legislation, originally sponsored by my late friend and colleague Rep. Charlie Norwood of Georgia, will close many loopholes that prevent local and Federal law enforcement officials from working together to arrest, detain, and deport violent criminal aliens. In so doing, it clarifies existing law that already provides law enforcement officials the inherent authority to enforce immigration laws already on the books.

It also provides cops on the beat with the information they need to actually alert Department of Homeland Security (DHS) when they come across a criminal alien in the regular course of their duty. Amazingly, our local law enforcement officials currently do not have access to this critical information, which often leads to the release of violent criminal aliens such as Mr. Carranza. By requiring DHS to add a new category of immigration violators to the computer that every cop has access to in their patrol cars, the CLEAR Act would right a historical wrong.

The legislation also requires the Federal government to live up to its end of the bargain. After all, if Tennessee law enforcement takes the time to report criminal alien detention to DHS, common sense dictates that the Feds should arrange to pick those criminal aliens up.

Increased coordination with the DHS will inevitably require additional funds to offset the associated costs. The CLEAR Act recognizes this reality, and provides additional Federal resources for local law enforcement officials through the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), while prohibiting those funds from local governments that provide sanctuary to violent criminal aliens.

I am proud that West Tennessee law enforcement is taking the lead in the fight against the drugs, weapons, and human trafficking that criminal alien gangs have brought to the I-40 corridor. The Federal government should reward our state for fighting back, discourage the sanctuary cities who are not, and plug the many gaps in Federal law that allow criminal alien violence to plague American communities.

The CLEAR Act is a common sense plan to address these critical concerns, and Congress should act immediately to pass it.