Nevada immigration reform advocates see hope from House leadership switch


Eric Cantor’s shocking election loss has given Nevada activists new hope for immigration reform.

In a major upset, Cantor, a Republican congressman from Virginia, lost his House seat June 10 — the same day as Nevada’s primary election — to a lesser-known GOP opponent, Dave Brat.

As a result, Cantor stepped down as House majority leader, and California’s Kevin McCarthy was elected last week to replace him in the No. 2 Republican leadership position behind House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

McCarthy, who has said he’s for immigration reform, represents an agricultural area around Bakersfield that relies on immigrant workers. His district is 35 percent Hispanic. And pro-immigration groups have been protesting at his office to ramp up the pressure on him to push for a House vote on immigration reform this summer.

All of this adds up to greater odds that the House will deal with immigration reform soon, said Laura Martin, a spokeswoman for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

“He has a lot more pressure on him because he has constituents who, if they’re not immigrants, are probably related to them,” Martin said. “For Rep. McCarthy, it’s different stakes in the game.”

The day before McCarthy was elected majority leader Thursday, the president of United Farm Workers, Arturo Rodriguez, made it clear that if the Californian won, he would be expected to act on immigration reform.

“There is no reason for Congressman Kevin McCarthy, as leader, not to take leadership on this issue,” Rodriguez said, according to CNN. “Everyone will expect it and demand it. And we will step up all of our activities as a whole.”

Still, McCarthy also will have to deal with political pressure not to act on immigration reform from a largely conservative tea party contingent of lawmakers in the House, many of whom backed him in his new job. That same tea party bloc made both Cantor and Boehner reluctant to bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote.

Meanwhile, the White House is waiting for the House to act and has suggested President Barack Obama will take some sort of executive action on immigration by Aug. 1 if Congress hasn’t moved a bill. The Obama administration is reviewing its deportation policies after sending more than 2 million illegal immigrants home so far.

On Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said “it’s an open question” whether McCarthy’s election to majority leader will lead to passage of immigration reform.

National pro-immigration groups have set a Friday deadline for some sort of House action. That date marks the one-year anniversary of Senate passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

Nevada’s congressional delegation favors immigration reform. Both U.S. Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted for the Senate bill. In the House, Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, both D-Nev., have urged passage of a House version of the bill. Reps. Mark Amodei and Joe Heck, both R-Nev., too, have expressed support for immigration reform, although they have not embraced all aspects of the Senate bill.

Martin of Nevada’s PLAN said both progressive groups like hers and pro-business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have come out in favor of fixing the nation’s broken immigration system.

“We see it as a moral issue,” Martin said, noting that families have been separated because of deportation policies. “They see it as an economic issue” because of jobs immigrants fill. “We just can’t give up.”

Martin said that even Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, a major GOP donor, wrote an opinion piece in Politico magazine advocating for passage of immigration reform. He said Republicans should lead the effort.

“Most of the immigrants who are here illegally came for the same reason as those who are here legally — a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families,” Adelson wrote Thursday. “They came heeding the famous words of poet Emma Lazarus that have welcomed generations of immigrants, including my parents, to the United States as they pass the Statue of Liberty and her golden torch: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …’

“Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans support immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship.” Adelson added. “So, let’s put the political nitpicking aside and deal with the situation.”

— Laura Myers

BOOZE 101 VEGAS STYLE

The free-wheeling days of carrying your bottle of beer in and out of casinos, so much a tradition of downtown Las Vegas, met its demise at midnight Saturday, marking another passing of an era.

With the recent liquor law changes by the Las Vegas City Council to curb alcohol-related problems, here’s a tutorial on how to drink alcohol at the Fremont Street Experience.

Call it Booze 101, an entry-level class to teach folks about the culture change that makes the Fremont Street Experience seem more like Bourbon Street.

Go cups will become the norm, but tourists and locals will need to learn the new rules.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

You can exit a casino with an alcoholic drink in a go-cup, paper or plastic, as long as it’s not glass and not a bottle. If it’s packaged liquor, it stays in the original packaging that the clerk has put in a sealed bag.

You still can drink alcohol out of those plastic footballs and plastic novelty containers.

You can drink a soda in a can or a bottle because it’s less likely they will be used as weapons (and liquor ordinances can’t regulate soft drinks).

WHAT YOU CAN’T DO:

You can’t carry an alcoholic drink out of a casino in a glass container. While the council didn’t make it a misdemeanor or fine-worthy, they haven’t finished their work yet, so this could change.

(Booze 102 will be offered later in the year to instruct drinkers on any other legal changes affecting their sipping pleasure.)

You can’t buy packaged liquor from a store and open the sealed bag outside along Fremont Street. An open bag automatically means you are in violation of the city ordinance, even if all you are doing is reaching into the bag for that bottle of aspirin next to the beer.

You can’t bring coolers full of alcohol from home and drink your drinks along the Fremont Street Experience unless you transfer them to paper or plastic containers.

WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO:

You shouldn’t try to argue with the nice police officer warning you about the changes.

— Jane Ann Morrison

MAYOR MEANS BUSINESS

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors this weekend in Dallas, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was appointed chairwoman of the group’s Mayors Business Council and received an award for the city’s efforts to save energy, reduce water use, recycle waste and build green.

Her term lasts a year and will focus on improving economic development and helping provide new job opportunities through business growth across the country.

The Business Council works directly with the elected leadership of the Conference of Mayors, so she will be involved in setting priorities and making policy decisions.

“I am so honored to be selected to serve on such an esteemed board that will help to improve the business climate in U.S. cities,” Goodman said in a news release. “We will be working with the private sector and the business community on issues that are so central to the success of all of our cities nationwide.”

Goodman is one of two top winners in the 2014 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards, an initiative sponsored by Wal-Mart and the conference. The annual awards program recognizes mayors for innovative programs that increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Las Vegas is challenging itself to become the nation’s first net-zero energy, water and waste municipality. This initiative has seen the construction of more than 1 million square feet of municipal green buildings. Additionally, more than 80 percent of the city’s 50,000 streetlights have been upgraded to LEDs. The city generates more than 5.25 megawatts of solar photovoltaic energy at 30 facilities. These systems have reduced city energy consumption by about 15 percent, saving the city more than $1 million dollars annually.

Co-mingled recycling at all city facilities has raised recycling rates to 55 percent, up from 20 percent five years ago, according to a news release.

In addition, since 2008, the city has reduced its municipal water consumption by 27 percent, using turf conversions, xeriscaping and equipment installations throughout city facilities.

“We are proud of our net zero initiative and the progress we are making,” Goodman said in another news release. “What is happening here in Las Vegas on energy innovation shouldn’t just stay here. All cities, as well as the nation, can benefit from net zero initiatives.”

— Jane Ann Morrison

HENDERSON MAYOR IN WAITING?

The Henderson City Council appointed Councilwoman Gerri Schroder mayor pro tem Tuesday on what the city says was a scheduled rotation of the position.

What make this appointment noteworthy is that the standing of current Mayor Andy Hafen is being challenged on term limits in the Nevada Supreme Court. If the justices remove him, Schroder would find herself mayor while the city looks to fill the seat either by appointment, by a special election or by allowing Schroder to become the permanent mayor. The city would then fill her seat by appointment or special election.

Schroder was first elected to the council in 2007 and re-elected in 2011.

— Arnold M. Knightly

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj. Contact Jane Ann Morrison at jmorrison@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0275. Contact Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3882. Find him on Twitter: @KnightlyGrind.

 

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