CARSON CITY — A group associated with state Sen. Michael Roberson filed paperwork Monday for an amendment to prevent sanctuary cities in Nevada to be added to the 2018 ballot.
The filing with the Nevada secretary of state was submitted by Prevent Sanctuary Cities political action committee. Nevada has no official sanctuary cities — jurisdictions where local law enforcement limits its cooperation with federal immigration authorities — but state legislation was proposed this year to create sanctuary cities.
Roberson, R-Henderson, said the constitutional amendment is needed to prevent laws that would make Nevada a sanctuary state.
“During the 2017 legislative session, we saw multiple attempts to make Nevada a Sanctuary State,” Roberson, honorary chairman of the PAC and a candidate for lieutenant governor, said in a statement. “This dangerous legislation was opposed by local law enforcement and would have led to violent criminals being released back onto our streets instead of being removed from our country.”
Roberson clashed with Democratic lawmakers who supported Senate Bill 223, which would have prevented state and local law enforcement from conducting immigration enforcement operations. Law enforcement, including the Metropolitan Police Department, also opposed the failed bill.
The proposed amendment would “prohibit the legislature, a county or city from enacting a law or ordinance, or otherwise adopting, enforcing or endorsing a policy which prohibits, limits or discourages cooperation with the enforcement of the immigration laws of the United States.”
Roberson also said the amendment is needed because Clark County commissioner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Giunchigliani has said she would sign sanctuary state legislation.
“Without safeguards and protections in place, we are one election away from Nevada becoming a Sanctuary State,” Roberson said.
Giunchigliani said it’s “alarming that instead of working across the aisle to keep our diverse community safe,” some are pushing law enforcement to carry out President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.
“Less divisiveness out there will make this a much better state,” she said.
Roberson said the measure is intended to allow police agencies like Metro to continue to work with federal agencies as they do now.
“We’re not talking about passing a law or constitutional amendment that would allow local law enforcement to go door to door and round individuals up,” Roberson said. “That’s not what we’re talking about at all.”
A representative for Nevada Senate Democratic legislators didn’t respond to a request for comment.
State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, a key sponsor of SB223, has called Roberson’s effort “a harmful initiative that puts families at risk in the hopes of partisan political benefit.” Cancela could not be reached for comment.
To qualify for the 2018 ballot, the measure will need signatures from 112,000 registered Nevada voters — 10 percent of the 1.12 million voters who participated in the last election. If the measure passes in 2018, it will go to voters again in 2020. After passing a second time, it would be part of the state constitution.