Thursday, February 12, 2004

American Bar Association formalizes opposition to CLEAR Act provisions

At its mid-year meeting in San Antonio, Texas, the American Bar Association passed Resolution 105 in opposition to provisions of the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act. Law-enforcement agencies have also denounced the CLEAR Act.

With the passage of Resolution 105, the ABA formally opposes the CLEAR Act provisions which would require local law-enforcement authorities to also enforce federal immigration law or risk losing federal funds, as well as provisions which would impose "criminal penalties such as fines and forfeiture for immigrants who overstay visas or commit other violations that are currently punished by deportation."

"The bill would let local law enforcement officials detain and seize assets of suspected illegal immigrants and grant them qualified immunity for mistakes they make while doing so."

"'This federal bill jeopardizes the separation of powers by asking local law enforcement officers to enforce civil immigration laws,' said Ohio delegate David C. Weiner in support of the resolution. 'Mere undocumented presence would become a felony and result in asset forfeiture. Meanwhile, local authorities are granted absolute immunity for improper application of complex civil immigration laws.'"

"'It's mean spirited and punitive in nature and, more than that, it's bad law enforcement,' Esther Lardent, chairwoman of the ABA commission on immigration policy, said of the CLEAR Act."

American Bar Association, San Antonio Express-News

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