A Georgia congressman will introduce a bill tomorrow meant to empower local police agencies to assist federal authorities with immigration enforcement.

The bill, The Clear Law Enforcement for Removal of Criminal Illegal Aliens Act of 2005, or CLEAR, will be introduced by Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga. A similar bill in the 108th Congress garnered 125 bipartisan co-sponsors, according to a statement from the congressman’s office.

The bill authorizes local law enforcement agencies in the course of routine duties to assist federal enforcement of immigration law on a voluntary basis. It also mandates the federal government reimburse local agencies for costs incurred.

States the legislation: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law and reaffirming the existing general authority, law enforcement personnel of a State or a political subdivision of a State are fully authorized to investigate, apprehend, detain, or remove aliens in the United States (including the transportation of such aliens across State lines to detention centers), in the enforcement of the immigration laws of the United States.”

Besides authorizing local authorities to take action against illegal aliens, the bill increases civil penalties for those found to be in the U.S. illegally.

The version Norwood pushed two years ago called for $1 billion in federal grants to be provided to local agencies to cover the costs of participating in immigration enforcement.

Local law enforcement agencies often practice “catch and release” procedures with illegal aliens because there are too few federal immigration agents to take custody of them.

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