Senate Bill Would Decrease Nevada's Role In Immigration Enforcem - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Senate Bill Would Decrease Nevada's Role In Immigration Enforcement

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Lawmakers are at odds over a bill that would dramatically change how Nevada enforces immigration laws.  The Silver State is part of the 287(g) program, which is a partnership between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and state, local, and campus law enforcement agencies.  If passed, SB223 would end that partnership, and those agencies would not be allowed to "investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest a person for purposes of immigration enforcement".

"There's a lack of clarity on the federal level," Sen. Yvonna Cancela, D-Las Vegas said. "I think it's a bill that puts Nevada's families first and allows there to be clarity on what our law enforcement will be doing as it relates to immigration enforcement."

Cancela introduced the legislation, Monday. The bill has a total of 14 sponsors and co-sponsors, all from the Democratic Party. Assemblyman Chris Brooks is one of them.  He says Nevada would have more of a hands-off approach, and leave immigration enforcement to ICE.

"They have a very clear role in immigration and the local law enforcement agencies in the state have their roles, and so this just clarifies what that is," Brooks, D-Las Vegas said.

Cancela says the legislation is a common sense bill.

"We can't fix what's happening at the federal level but we can take responsibility for what happens in our state," Cancela said.

Opponents say the the bill undercuts the agreement with the federal government, and that it is nothing more than political posturing and pandering to a certain special interest base.

"The idea that we can tie the hands of our law enforcement officers, and then call Nevadans safer, I think is ridiculous," Assem. Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas said.

"Yvonna Cancela's sanctuary state bill is the most recklessly irresponsible bill I've seen in the six years I've been in the legislature," Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson said. "It will result in violent criminals being released back onto the streets. It will make our communities far less safe than it is today."

Roberson says approval of the bill would result in a loss of millions of dollars in federal funding for the state, including at least $8 million for Las Vegas.

"It would not allow local law enforcement to keep us safe by working with federal officials to make sure people that are committing crimes in this state and who should not be in this state, leave this state," Roberson said.

Cancela and Brooks say the bill will strengthen immigration enforcement because it narrows who is responsible for it, which would be ICE.  As for criminals who are in Nevada, illegally, Cancela says the bill makes some exceptions.

"The bill allows for cooperation with ICE when there's probable cause or a warrant is involved, and I would be happy to have those discussions with them and I'm sure that that will be brought up during committee hearings," Cancela said.

While some say the bill is intended to protect undocumented immigrants in Nevada, Anderson says the possibility of President Trump cracking down on illegal immigration has no relevance when it comes to SB223.

"I think that we're all for legal immigration. I think we all support those that want to make a better life for themselves. There's nothing in the law that prevents people from doing that, and we certainly support that," Anderson said.

Roberson says he will do everything he can to defeat the bill, but that could be difficult.  Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro is the only Senate Democrat who did not sponsor the bill, and the democrats hold the majority in both houses.  If the bill passes the Senate and Assembly, Governor Brian Sandoval will have the ability to veto the measure.

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