Nevada initiative to ban sanctuary cities would improve public safety

Some Nevada Democrats are so radical on immigration they’ve made violent crime prevention a partisan issue.

On Monday, a PAC chaired by state Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, filed an initiative to amend Nevada’s constitution to prevent sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities refuse to tell federal immigration authorities when they have arrested or are about to release an illegal immigrant who is a criminal suspect. Some make exceptions for illegal immigrants with violent pasts.

Roberson promised to file this initiative after Sen. Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, unsuccessfully pushed a bill this spring to make Nevada a sanctuary state.

Supporters need to collect 112,544 valid signatures to put it on the ballot next year.

“During the 2017 legislative session, we saw multiple attempts to make Nevada a Sanctuary State,” Roberson said in 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. To make matters worse, the likely Democratic nominee for Governor, Chris Giunchigliani, has recently confirmed she would sign Sanctuary State legislation.”

Donald Trump highlighted this issue in 2015 as a presidential candidate after the tragic death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an illegal immigrant, was in jail in San Francisco. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials asked San Francisco to detain him so they could deport him, but the sheriff refused based on the city’s sanctuary policy. Zarate then shot and killed Steinle as she was walking with her father.

Had police arrested Zarate in Las Vegas, the Metropolitan Police Department would have held him for ICE. He’d have been deported instead of being provided an opportunity to kill someone.

Metro officers currently alert ICE when an illegal immigrant comes into custody. Last year, Metro arrested 50,000 people. It notified ICE 1,500 times that someone was an illegal immigrant. Of those 1,500, ICE picked up just 170 illegal immigrants last year.

Cancela’s bill would have protected those 170 people from deportation. She still wants to provide that shield.

“This ballot initiative is a pathetic and divisive political stunt designed to help Senator Roberson pander to Republican primary voters and stoke anti-immigrant fears in the 2018 election,” Cancela said on Twitter. “No one wants dangerous criminals on our streets and suggesting otherwise is ridiculous and misleading.”

Cancela may not want dangerous criminals on the streets, but if you take away law enforcement’s ability to remove them, that’s where they’ll stay.

Aside from Cancela, Nevada Democrats have been uncharacteristically silent on this issue. The Nevada Democratic Party has put out eight press releases this week, but none on this. It’s evidence they understand the public supports Roberson’s proposal.

Calls to the Democratic Party and Assemblyman and Nevada Democrat Party Chairman William McCurdy II weren’t returned. The number listed on a campaign site for attorney general candidate and Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford went to a voicemail that “is no longer being monitored.” Another message left with Ford wasn’t returned.

Keeping criminals off the streets shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Democrats should break with Cancela and endorse Roberson’s initiative.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Nevada section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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