New, but maybe short-lived life for Nevada anti-sanctuary plan | NevadaAppeal.com

New, but maybe short-lived life for Nevada anti-sanctuary plan

Cy Ryan
Special to the Nevada Appeal

A district judge has opened the door for proponents of an anti-sanctuary initiative to go forward to become a constitutional amendment but the victory may be short lived.

Carson City District Judge Todd Russell Wednesday approved language that must appear in the description on the initiative that will inform voters of the impact of the amendment. The issue has bounced between the district court and the Nevada Supreme Court and this was the third hearing.

As supporters of the Prevent Sanctuary Cities PAC gather signatures to put the question on the November election ballot, Russell adopted language telling the voter this proposed amendment "may significantly limit the power of local government to implement and carry out local priorities, policies and programs."

After his ruling, the judge wondered how the anti-sanctuary supporters would be able to obtain the signatures of 112,544 voters by June 19 to qualify for the November ballot.

Attorneys Amy Rose of the ACLU that opposes the initiative and James Bradshaw representing the supporters of the amendment didn't have any comment whether the required signatures could be obtained. And they both declined to say whether the language adopted by Russell would be appealed to the Supreme Court.

In gathering signatures for a proposed constitutional amendment, there must be a description of how it will affect voters. Russell initially ruled the description on the proposed amendment was too broad. Supporters appealed to the Supreme Court, which returned the case to the district court to adopt an acceptable version of the impact statement.

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Russell said this measure would prohibit local governments from refusing to cooperate with the federal government in enforcement of federal immigration laws.

"Currently local governments are not legally required to expend their own resources to enforce federal immigration laws."

Rose and Bradshaw objected to some wording in the first version of the judge's description. Russell produced a third version of the description which informs voters this would limit local governments on the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The ACLU first filed suit maintaining the initial language in the proposed constitutional amendment was defective.

There have been no local governments in Nevada that have adopted a sanctuary ordinance that would limit law enforcement officials from questioning persons about their legal status in this country.

After the ruling, Rose said the language wasn't ideal but better than the initial description put forth by anti-sanctuary supporters. And she said the short time to collect signatures was the fault of the supporters who initially included misleading language in the petition.

Bradshaw said he wasn't permitted to comment until he talks with supporters. The proposed amendment was initially suggested by Sen, Michael Roberson of Las Vegas who's running for lieutenant governor.

If it makes it to the ballot, it must be approved by the voters this year and again in 2020.