Alabama
1:05 pm
Mon September 15, 2003

Norwood, Sessions get-tough on illegal immigration

Washington, DC – Since writing one of the toughest plans to deal with illegal aliens, Georgia Congressman Charlie Norwood has become public enemy Number One for those seeking a softer approach.

Critics of the Georgia Republican's Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act envision a nightmare scenario in which local police departments are strained and racial profiling runs rampant.

Norwood argues he's not really changing the law -- just clarifying the right state and local law enforcement officers already have to arrest suspected illegal immigrants.

The bill still hasn't gotten the support of President Bush or House Republican leaders, so swift movement in Congress seemed unlikely. But the Senate could change that this week.

Alabama GOP Senator Jeff Sessions is crafting a Senate companion version he expects to have ready by Thursday's hearing on immigration and border security.

Foes of the approach -- including the American Civil Liberties Union -- are mobilizing in case the bill gets some traction at the hearing and makes its way to the congressional calendar next year.