Debate in Nevada over Arizona immigration law likely to intensify

Debate in Nevada over Arizona’s immigration law will likely intensify as a lawmaker seeks to establish a similar measure in the Silver State.

Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, has already submitted a request for the legislative counsel bureau to use the language of Arizona’s SB1070 to craft a nearly identical bill for Nevada.

Gustavson, who submitted the bill draft request in May, said Monday that illegal immigrants "obviously are taking jobs away from people in Nevada."

Gustavson was among the sponsors of an unsuccessful bill in the 2009 session that would have greatly restricted services illegal immigrants could receive in Nevada.

The Arizona law, which has been blocked from enactment by a federal judge, calls for state and local authorities to take more action to enforce federal immigration laws.

Opponents say it will subject legal immigrants and some Americans to unjustified racial profiling. Supporters say the federal government isn’t doing a good job enforcing immigration laws and the state has an obligation to take action in order to reduce drug smuggling, human trafficking and violence that takes place in border regions.

In Nevada, gubernatoral candidate Brian Sandoval, a Republican, has said he supports the Arizona law but isn’t sure it would be appropriate for Nevada as the former shares a border with Mexico and the latter doesn’t. Democratic candiate Rory Reid has said he opposes the Arizona immigration law.

Polls show a majority of voters in both states support the law. But among Hispanics in Arizona, opposition outweighs support by a wide margin.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of Nevada’s legislative counsel bureau, says the bill probably won’t be ready in time for the Nov. 2 election. Drafters are waiting to see how Arizona handles the federal courts’ response to the bill.

There may be other complications as well.

Malkiewich said "as a former bill drafter I can tell you that adopting a law from another state generally is a lot more complicated than just changing the name of the state: you need to see how each change fits into our existing law to see what other statutes may need to be amended and whether any existing statutes conflict with new provisions."

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