Rep. Charles Norwood, a Georgia Republican, has introduced a bill that clarifies that local law-enforcement officers have the authority to enforce immigration laws as they go about their business. The bill, called the CLEAR (Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal) Act, has 109 sponsors. It also has detractors: Norwood found himself on a list of Republicans that New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has “blacklisted.” The mayor will encourage New Yorkers not to donate money to Norwood and other Republicans who he deems hostile to immigrants and, more broadly, to the city’s interests.
Last week, Joe Lieberman blasted the bill, too. “I don’t know whose bright idea this was, but this bulb ought to be turned off,” he told the National Latino Police Officers Association. According to Eunice Moscoso’s write-up in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lieberman argued that “the bill would overburden already-stretched police departments and make immigrants hesitant to cooperate in police investigations.” Those would be reasonable concerns about a bill that required the police to enforce immigration laws. But this bill merely says that they are authorized to do so, when such authorization is unclear at present. If a city’s police force decided that enforcing the immigration laws would be too taxing, or would make it too hard to enforce other laws, it could decline to use this authority. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that opponents of the act just aren’t serious about fighting illegal immigration.
BLACKWELL VS. TAFT
The Ohio Republican establishment has made it unmistakably clear over the years that it has little tolerance for Ken Blackwell or his boat-rocking conservatism. The party establishment’s hostility to the secretary of state is even higher now that he is campaigning for a referendum to repeal the Republican governor’s tax increase. Gov. Bob Taft raised the sales tax from 5 to 6 percent. Supposedly, the increase is temporary. But his budget director has already suggested that it may be made permanent.
On his website, Blackwell writes: “My philosophy is simple: when our state loses 118,000 jobs in a year we should not be increasing spending several times the rate of inflation and we should not be raising taxes record amounts. . . . My goal is to bring fiscal discipline back to Ohio” (emphasis in original).