CARSON CITY, NV (KXNT) – On Friday, a First Judicial District Court judge threw out a petition for a state ballot initiative that would have prevented any Nevada cities from passing “sanctuary city” policies that force greater local law enforcement cooperation with immigration authorities.
Civil rights groups are celebrating that decision by a Carson City judge to toss out a petition for a ballot initiative to stop sanctuary cities in Nevada. There are no self-described sanctuary cities in the state, but the ballot initiative would have banned cities our counties from passing laws that might inhibit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Amy Rose, legal director at the A-C-L-U Nevada, said the petition language simply didn’t pass constitutional mustard.
“The judge agreed with us and said that the language of the initiative petition was misleading, and it didn’t tell voters what effects it would have if it would pass,” said Rose.
The anti-sanctuary cities petition initiative was supported by state Senator Michael Roberson, who plas to run for Lieutenant Governor. He has vowed to appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. If the petition is reinstated, its backers would have until June to collect 112-thousand signatures. In last year’s legislature, a measure died that would have prohibited state and local police agencies from participating in immigration enforcement.
Rose also said the ballot measure could have had far-reaching consequences, such as forcing hospitals to surrender undocumented patients to immigration authorities. She adds that in other states that have sanctuary cities, ICE agents can still do raids and make arrests.
“A lot of people think it means that no immigration enforcement can happen in a so-called sanctuary city. And that’s just not the truth. Cities that have been categorized as a sanctuary city, all they say is ‘We don’t want to spend our local resources helping enforce immigration law,” Rose said.
Leaders in Nevada’s immigrant community have said if local police become a virtual arm of ICE, people who are undocumented will be less likely to report crimes or come forward with information about crimes they might have witnessed.