Return with us now to those thrilling days under the Articles of Confederation when every state made up its own rules regarding immigration and naturalization of foreigners, back before the Constitution gave Congress the sole authority to establish such rules.
In arguing for enactment of the Constitution in Federalist Paper No. 42, James Madison wrote, “The new Constitution has accordingly, with great propriety, made provision against them, and all others proceeding from the defect of the Confederation on this head, by authorizing the general government to establish a uniform rule of naturalization throughout the United States.”
Now along comes Democratic state Sen. Yvanna Cancela of Las Vegas, along with a host of fellow scofflaw Democrats, with a bill in Carson City that would turn Nevada into a “sanctuary state” by forbidding law enforcement cooperating with federal immigration authorities in identifying persons in their custody who are in this country illegally.
Senate Bill 223 states: “No state or local law enforcement agency, school police unit or campus police department shall: (a) Use money, facilities, property, equipment or personnel of the agency, unit or department to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest a person for the purposes of immigration enforcement …”
Cancela was quoted by the Reno newspaper as saying the bill “limits the ability to participate in immigration enforcement as far as what’s under federal purview.”
She went on to say, “The uncertainty that (President) Trump has created because of his executive orders, because of his political – frankly – hate speech around them has created a lot of problems not only for local law enforcement, but individuals. I think it’s our responsibility as legislators to provide as much clarity not only to law enforcement but families who are affected by those policies.”
Currently, under a program called 287(g), cooperating police departments that take a suspected illegal immigrant into custody notify U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents and they have 48 hours to pick up that person. In the past, ICE has been notoriously lax in showing up within those 48 hours, but, according to numerous press accounts, this is no longer the case under the new Trump presidential administration.
Under SB223 this would come to a screeching halt, despite the fact all lawmakers are required to take an oath of office swearing to “support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States … that I will bear true faith, allegiance and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution or law of any state notwithstanding …”
In reaction to the bill, Senate Republican Minority Leader Michael Roberson released a statement to the press, saying, “This ‘Sanctuary State’ bill is, without question, the most recklessly irresponsible piece of legislation that I have witnessed during my six plus years in the Nevada Legislature. This Democrat bill will undoubtedly result in violent criminals, who have no business being in our state, to be released back into our communities to wreak more havoc on Nevadans.”
One of the arguments made by sanctuary proponents is that illegal immigrants are loath to report crimes for fear they will risk deportation and this increases criminal activity. But state and local law enforcement currently does not ask those who report crimes about their immigration status, only those who are in custody, those most likely to continue criminal activity if ICE is not given the opportunity to deport them because they pose a danger to the entire community — illegal immigrants included.
To add potential impact on state taxpayers to real danger of criminal activity, it should be noted that President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities, and presumably sanctuary states. He signed an executive order directing government officials to identify federal money that can be withheld to punish sanctuary cities.
So what could this mean for the “sanctuary state” of Nevada should SB223 pass in a Democrat majority Legislature?
The state’s total budget for the past two years was $26 billion. Fully $9 billion of that came from federal funds, according to the state budget.
Passing SB223 could have serious consequences to the bottom line of the state of Nevada, but that has never stopped the self-righteous Democrats, has it?
Thomas Mitchell is a longtime Nevada newspaper columnist. You may email him at email@example.com. He also blogs at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/.