Legislator fights lawsuits over initiative petition on immigration issue

CARSON CITY — The state legislator who wants Nevada to adopt Arizona’s controversial immigration law said Thursday he has not yet circulated petitions because he must first raise money to fight lawsuits.

Assemblyman Chad Christensen, R-Las Vegas, said he has been sued by several large organizations, including the Nevada Resort Association and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, over his initiative petition that would allow police to check identification of people suspected of being illegal immigrants.

He said he is not wealthy and it is not easy facing off against organizations with a lot of money.

"I expect to begin circulating petitions soon," said Christensen, who was defeated in the June 8 primary election for U.S. Senate. "We have no shortage of volunteers."

A June 1-3 Review-Journal poll showed that 57 percent of registered voters in Nevada would support an immigration law like Arizona’s. The poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. showed that 32 percent would oppose such a measure, with 11 percent undecided.

Christensen intends to rely largely on volunteers to collect the 97,000 signatures he needs by Nov. 9 to qualify the petition for a future ballot.

But first he has an Aug. 9 court date before District Judge James Wilson in Carson City over a lawsuit filed against the petition by the Nevada Open for Business Coalition, a group headed by two Hispanic Assembly members, Mo Denis and Ruben Kihuen, both Las Vegas Democrats. Other groups opposed to the petition have joined that lawsuit.

Wilson could decide to let the petition move forward or require Christensen to make word changes before he circulates it.

Even if Christensen wins, his opponents probably will appeal to the state Supreme Court, a step which would reduce the time he has to circulate the Nevada Immigration Verification petition.

Christensen faces a formidable task qualifying his petition through the use of volunteers. In recent years, groups in Nevada that used volunteers exclusively have failed to secure sufficient signatures.

In addition, lawsuits have been filed against virtually every petition and these lawsuits generally have prevailed. No petitions to make changes to the constitution qualified for the ballot this November.

Christensen is seeking to change a law, not the state constitution. If he secures sufficient signatures, then it would be up to the Legislature next year to implement or reject his petition. If legislators refuse to adopt it, the matter would be placed before voters in the 2012 election.

The lawsuit the U.S. Department of Justice filed against Arizona earlier this week shows how embarrassed the Obama administration has become of its failure to enforce immigration laws, according to Christensen.

"It completely has ignored doing its job," Christensen said. "A state had to rise up and say, ‘We’re tried of waiting for the federal government to do its job.’ "

Christensen said there are four key points to his petition and the Arizona law:

■ Law enforcement officers can verify the legal status of individuals;

■ Companies that knowingly hire illegal residents will be penalized;

■ State benefits such as welfare and unemployment will be denied to illegal residents;

■ People must show a photo ID before they can vote.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security study earlier this year estimated there are 260,000 illegal residents in Nevada, or about 10 percent of the state population. On a per capita basis, Nevada has more illegal residents than Arizona, according to Christensen.

Information about the petition may be found on the noillegals.org website. The site, however, has little information about the petition and is more about Christensen’s failed U.S. Senate campaign.

Denis, who is unopposed in a bid for the state Senate, said it is clear that Christensen’s petition violates the "single-subject rule" since it deals with police, businesses, voting and other subjects.

Opponents to petitions frequently have won in Nevada courts because the petitions deal with multiple subjects, contrary to state law.

The description that explains the intent of Christensen’s petition also is confusing, Denis said.

One sentence reads the intent of the petition is to "make attrition" through enforcement of public policy by law enforcement officers.

Denis said the Nevada Resort Association and other business groups have joined his lawsuit because of their concern that passage of the petition might lead to boycotts of casinos and conventions by Hispanic people and groups.

He said the Arizona law is not yet in effect, but already business people there have complained they have lost $100 million in potential convention and tourism business.

Hispanic tourism in Nevada is a $1.5 billion-a-year business, according to Denis.

"Something like that would kill us economically," he added.

A member of a national legislative immigration task force, Denis said he has visited both the Canadian and Mexican borders and noted there is increased security and fewer illegal residents coming to the United States.

He favors an immigration reform law that would give illegal residents who have been paying taxes and not violating other laws a pathway to citizenship that would include paying penalties and learning English.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

Vegas Homeless Remembered
Las Vegas vigil remembers 179 homeless people who died over the past year in Clark County. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A look inside Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory
Tesla's Gigafactory east of Reno produces the batteries that fuel the company's electric cars. Production has created more than 7,000 jobs, and the campus that includes one of the largest buildings in the world is expected to triple in size by the time it is completed. Tesla Vice President Chris Lister leads a tour of the facility. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garnet Interchange Ribbon Cutting
The Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the $63 million I-15-US 93 Garnet Interchange project. The project includes a modified diverging diamond interchange and a 5-mile widening of US 93.
State Foresters Hunt for Record Trees
Urban foresters from the Nevada Division of Forestry hunt for record setting trees.
Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like