CARSON CITY – Bills related to immigration at the Nevada State Legislature did not make it past an important deadline last week.
One bill from Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, would have required Nevada to use an electronic database to verify a person’s employment eligibility.
Another from Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, would have mirrored an Arizona law whose proponents crafted to curb illegal immigration, but whose detractors say encourages racial profiling. That law is currently tied up in the court system.
The dearth of immigration bills makes Nevada somewhat of an oddity in the United States. Other states are considering or have passed immigration legislation. Most lawmakers have sought to apply more stringent standards to current laws.
Utah, however, has passed a law that would allow police to check immigrants’ status, but would also allow illegal immigrants to obtain a permit to work in Utah.
In Nevada, even the sponsors of immigration bills seemed resigned to the death of their bills as a bill deadline loomed last Friday.
Hansen and Hickey did not press a Democratic committee chair to ensure the bills passed.
The bills did not have the votes to pass out of committee, they said.
Hansen said that tepid comments from legislators in addition to ambivalence from the business community and unions ensured his bill would not be considered.
The immigration issue, however, has not been primary to any discussion at the Nevada Legislature. The state’s fiscal woes have ensured most discussions relate to the governor’s proposed general fund budget. Bills changing the state’s education policy have also gained traction.
But immigration is not popular. Assembly Republicans have listed several legislative priorities, which would have more effect on public sector and trade unions and trial lawyers than on immigrants.
According to the Pew Center, however, Nevada hosts a high percentage of illegal immigrants compared to its population.
Nevada’s foreign-born population has also grown during the past decade to nearly 20 percent of the population, according to the American Community Survey. This population comprises both citizens and non-citizens.