The Nevada Assembly overwhelmingly voted for an effort Tuesday that calls on the federal government to pass legislation ensuring current and future immigrants have opportunities to achieve the American dream.
The Assembly’s 37-3 nod of approval for Senate Joint Resolution 15 comes after the Senate unanimously approved the same measure earlier this month.
“The spirit of this resolution, urging Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform is a message in line with our cherished heritage as Americans because we are a nation of immigrants,” Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey said during the Assembly floor debate.
With their votes of approval, legislators stressed the importance of immigration as an integral component of the United States and urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
“Unless you’re a Native American, we’re all immigrants,” Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, said. “Our ancestors came here or were brought here, and I think that’s what has made our country rich.”
He said the current system has 11 million people “living in the shadows.”
“Having this amount of our population who are raising families here — who cannot live like normal people, cannot call the police when there’s an issue out of fear of being deported — is simply not working,” Ohrenschall said.
The resolution says the reform must create a path to citizenship for current and future immigrants, install and maintain appropriate border security and establish a funding plan to negate costs on state governments.
It is part of a coordinated, bipartisan national effort by state governments to encourage federal action, said Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas.
While the idea of comprehensive immigration reform is important, this particular effort is too specific and would hurt the working middle class by allowing an influx of cheap labor, said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, urging his peers to kill the measure.
But without immigration reform like that prescribed in this measure, the “American dream” is unattainable for millions and changing that for immigrants is of paramount importance to the future of America, said Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas.
“They cannot get to the American dream because we have built barriers around the American dream, and they can’t break through,” she said. “Without comprehensive immigration reform, they will never be able to do the things that my husband and I have been able to do for my daughters and hopefully my daughters will be able to do for their children.”
With both chambers approving, the resolution will now be sent to Congress.