Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

Berkley Defends Actions In Preserving Kidney Program, Calls For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

By Sean Whaley | 8:06 pm June 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – U.S. Senate candidate and Rep. Shelley Berkley defended her efforts to preserve a kidney transplant program in Nevada in 2008, saying she never advocated for anything that was not in the best interests of patients and patient care.

Berkley, D-Nev., defended her role in preserving the program in response to questions in an interview on the Face To Face television program.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Berkley, who is facing U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in a battle for the seat that could tip the balance of power in the Senate, also expressed disappointment that the U.S. Supreme Court today did not completely reject Arizona’s immigration law.

In a lengthy discussion of her ethics review, Berkley defended her actions.

“The reality is I’ve never done anything, or never advocated for anything that wasn’t in the best interest of patients and patient care,” she said.

Berkley said she has sponsored or co-sponsored over 100 pieces of health-related legislation, from breast cancer to osteoporosis, because of her commitment to patient care in Nevada.

“Would I have really stood back and done nothing when I knew that there was a possibility that the only kidney transplant program in the entire state of Nevada was going to be closed,” she said. “At the time it was going to be closed there were 200 Nevada patients waiting for a kidney transplant. This is a life-saving operation.”

The House of Representative’s Ethics Committee is expected to announce its course of action in the Berkley ethics issue by July 9. A complaint filed by the Nevada Republican Party,, prompted by a New York Times report, involves allegations that Berkley used her position to help her husband’s medical practice.

On the U.S. Supreme Court decision today repealing three of four major sections of the Arizona immigration law, Berkley said she was disappointed that the law was not rejected in its entirety.

She echoed the comments of many other elected officials today by saying the ruling makes it clear Congress and the president must address comprehensive immigration reform. The alternative is 50 different laws on immigration in the 50 states, Berkley said.

Berkley also offered qualified support both for the federal stimulus package approved early on in the Obama presidency, as well as the federal health care law that will see a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday.

Berkley said she voted for the health care law because in balance, it was best for Nevadans, particularly the 600,000 residents who don’t have health insurance. The vote was not the result of pressure from then-house majority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi or anyone else, she said.

Berkley said she supported the stimulus bill even though it was not a “silver bullet” because it was a good first step and necessary to move the economy forward.


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says her votes on a kidney transplant program were to ensure patient care:

062512Berkley1 :08 and patient care.”

Berkley says she had to act to save the program:

062512Berkley2 :20 life-saving operation.”


Immigration Bills Fall Short As Deadline Passes

By Andrew Doughman | 10:42 am April 18th, 2011

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.








Immigration Bills Spark Heated Debate In Legislature

By Andrew Doughman | 1:10 pm April 6th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Two bills relating to illegal immigrants sparked heated debate in an Assembly committee this morning.

One from Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, would impose penalties and restrictions on illegal immigrants in a way similar to a controversial Arizona law enacted this past year.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, proposed that the state adopt the federal “E-Verify” system, an electronic database that verifies someone’s employment eligibility.

Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, had to ask numerous times for both the support and opposition to keep their comments relevant to the bill.

“I want to stick to the merits of the bill because any time we single out one group or another we do a disservice to the state as a whole,” she told those listening to the hearing.

Meanwhile, observers on the social media site Twitter accused each other of racism and bigotry.

Hansen’s bill would require proof of identity to vote, restrict eligibility for Nevada’s Millennium Scholarship to U.S. citizens, prohibit non-citizens from obtaining driver’s licenses or receiving certain state benefits.

He said the bill is mainly about jobs.

“The number one issue that was confronted with was the economy and the second was illegal immigration,” Hansen said of his talks with voters while campaigning for office last year.

Hansen said that the state’s undocumented workers are preventing Nevada’s unemployed people from finding employment.

He cited figures that show Nevada has a high number of illegal immigrants. A recent Pew Hispanic Center study also found that Nevada ranks No. 1 in the nation in terms of the percentage of illegal immigrants comprising a state’s total population.

Hansen’s bill would cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars if passed into law. This is because it would require state agencies to spend more money to comply with the bills numerous requirements.

“You have half the kitchen sink here is what you have,” Kirkpatrick said of Hansen’s bill.

Hansen’s bill also would require the state to use the federal “E-Verify” database that verifies someone’s employment eligibility.

Hickey’s bill would require contractors bidding for state public works projects to use that system.

“I think this is a small first step,” he said. “This is not talking about all employers in this state, but starting with public works projects, which are tax-payer-funded ones.”

Opponents to the bill said that the federal database upon which E-Verify relies is rife with error. Contractors also objected to the language of the bill because it would make them responsible not only for their organizations, but for their subcontractors as well.

“The E-verify system is an attempt to try to do something that we support, but it has just not proven to be effective,” said Warren Hardy, lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors of Nevada.

The bills sparked reactions from the numerous Hispanic legislators who sit on the Assembly Government Affairs committee.

Assemblywomen Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, and Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, said that anyone testifying should restrict testimony to immigrants rather than Hispanics.

Others suggested that the bills would polarize the Hispanic electorate.

“It’s because of Republicans like [Assemblymen] Hickey & Hansen why R’s will have hard time making inroads with Hispanic voters in NV,” said Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, via his Twitter account.

The government affairs committee took no immediate action on either bill.


State Attorney General Defends Record, Denies Playing Politics Under Fire from Opponents

By Sean Whaley | 3:55 pm September 27th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Catherine Cortez Masto points to a number of accomplishments in her first term as attorney general, from reducing methamphetamine production in Nevada to cracking down on mortgage fraud, all while having to live with major budget cuts and fewer staff.

Masto, a Democrat running for a second term, faces Republican attorney Travis Barrick and Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen, who is running as the Independent American Party candidate, in the Nov. 2 general election.

Both Barrick and Hansen criticize Masto for two controversies in her first term: her misguided and unsuccessful effort to prosecute Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki , a Republican, for allegedly misusing college savings funds while state treasurer, and her decision not to follow Gov. Jim Gibbons’ directive to file a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law.

Both candidates question whether Masto has let politics play a role in her decisions as attorney general, a claim she denies.

Masto said people do try to play politics with such cases but that her office does not engage in such conduct.

“It never will be,” she said. “I will always look at it from a legal perspective, what’s the best interest for the state of Nevada; the people I represent.”

Barrick, who went to law school late in life, said many of Masto’s priorities are laudable but that she is failing to pursue other important initiatives as the top law enforcement officer of the state, such as improving the safety of the state prison system, which is dangerous for both correctional officers and inmates, and protecting mining and ranching interests from legal attacks by environmentalists.

Hansen, who says he has more experience than both of the other candidates combined, said as attorney general he would file a “friend of the court” brief in defense of Arizona’s new immigration law. Hansen said he would also push for a similar law in Nevada and if it was challenged, file a counterclaim against the federal government seeking compensation for Nevada for the costs of providing services to illegal immigrants.

Hansen has already filed a private class action lawsuit against the federal health care law, arguing it violates the individual constitutional rights of Nevada residents.

“It wouldn’t be business as usual with me in there,” he said.

Masto is leading in a poll done for the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week. It shows Masto with 37 percent to 27 percent for Barrick. “Another party” candidate gets 3 percent in the poll and 22 percent are undecided.

Masto said one of the top issues she pursued upon being elected was methamphetamine production.

“Methamphetamine was a number one issue for us because we led the nation in first time use, both for our kids and our adults,” she said. “From my perspective we’ve done a phenomenal to address it.”

Masto said she worked with the Legislature in 2007 to put the common medicines used in the drug production behind the counter of pharmacies, which led to a huge drop in the number of labs manufacturing the drug in Nevada.

Masto acknowledges that one result of that successful effort has been to see more of the drug smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. But Masto said she is working with her counterparts in several Mexican states to address the drug importation issue, along with other important cross-border concerns including weapons trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking.

The efforts have produced results, as seen by the higher price and lower quality of meth found in Nevada, she said.

Now that meth use is under some control, a new threat is young people looking through the family medicine cabinets for drugs. As a result, Masto said the state and local governments are offering prescription drug roundups to collect and properly dispose of unneeded medications.

Masto said she is also working to address domestic violence, consumer fraud, especially for senior citizens, those who prey on families who face foreclosure, and Medicaid fraud, among many other issues.

With domestic violence, Nevada now leads the nation in the number of women murdered per capita as a result of domestic violence, she said. A gun is the weapon of choice in most of these cases, Masto said.

The state recently received a federal grant to perform a review of domestic violence fatalities with the goal of learning how to address the issue, Masto said. It will be a collaborative effort involving law enforcement, treatment providers, elected officials and others, she said.  As chairwoman of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, Masto said the state workers with the batterers as well to try to stem the violence.

“We’re doing all this with less,” she said.

Her employees are taking unpaid furloughs, but they also come in after hours to get their work done without being paid overtime, Masto said.

Masto said she has reached out to work with law enforcement and other groups involved in the various issues pursued by her office as a way of stretching scare resources even further. As a result, every major law enforcement agency in the state has endorsed her campaign, she said.

Masto has faced a few controversies in her first term as the top law enforcement office in the state overseeing the state’s largest law firm. Masto and Gibbons, a Republican, faced off over whether the state should sue over the new federal health care reform law.

Masto declined to intervene, saying the challenges under way did not require Nevada’s involvement and her office’s scarce resources could be devoted to other pressing issues. Gibbons went ahead independently to sue over the health care law.

Masto also took some pointed criticisms for pursuing the case against Krolicki, which was thrown out by a Clark County judge last year. Krolicki had been facing criminal charges regarding the expenditure of funds for a college savings program. Krolicki denied any wrongdoing and said the failed prosecution was politically motivated. Krolicki is running for a second term as lieutenant governor.

Regarding the health care challenge, Masto said she is a firm believer in states’ rights and has defended them, but her office has to pick and choose where to spend scarce resources.

“We have the highest unemployment rate, highest bankruptcy, highest foreclosure, these people are concerned, rightfully so, about how they are going to survive and keep food on the table,” she said. “So from my perspective if I have the ability to assist them in some form or fashion that is where I’m going to focus.”

The health care and Krolicki issues, along with Masto’s decision not to investigate former state nuclear projects director Bob Loux over a salary controversy, are the reasons cited by Barrick for running against Masto.

Masto, citing a conflict of interest, turned the Loux investigation over to the Washoe County Sheriff for investigation in September 2008. No results have yet been reported.

Barrick, who worked as a contractor for many years before going back to school and eventually earning a law degree, said he filed for the race because he did not see a conservative seeking to challenge Masto.

Barrick said his campaign is about bringing integrity to the job.

“One of the knocks on my candidacy is that I am a relative newcomer to Nevada politics,” he said. “My response to that was, the other side of that is, I don’t owe anybody any favors at all. You can see that just in the campaign contributions I have not received.”

While contributions are limited, Barrick said he defeated a GOP opponent in the primary who outspent him four to one, suggesting money in itself doesn’t decide who will win an election.

While supporting those goals Masto is pursuing, Barrick said he is concerned about the issues that are not getting the attention they deserve.

“I think the prison system is a mess,” he said.

Since the attorney general is a member of the Board of Prison Commissioners, Barrick said he would work to create a safer environment in the state’s prisons.

“My conscience will not allow me as a Nevada citizen to stand by and allow our prisons system to be barbaric both to the correctional officers and to the inmates,” he said.

Barrick said he also has questions about a controversial labor commissioner ruling in support of a tip pooling policy instituted by Wynn Resorts to include supervisors.

“The rich and powerful in this state are being given a pass on bad acts,” he said.

Hansen said he believes Masto’s priorities as attorney general have been misguided. In particular, she was obligated to file a lawsuit challenging the health care law when asked to do so by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“So she violated her duty,” he said. “She had no right to say no. I filed a private class action lawsuit because she failed to file one.”

Hansen said he would also seek to follow the lead of the Ohio attorney general, who sued several major Wall Street firms on behalf of the investors of the state and won a $1 billion settlement from American International Group, Inc. (AIG) and lesser amounts from other firms.

“What was our attorney general doing with her time while the Ohio attorney general was getting $1 billion for Ohio,” Hansen asked. “Well what she was doing is going after Brian Krolicki and getting thrown out of court because it was groundless. That’s what she did. That’s what she did for Nevada.”

Hansen said as attorney general he would also undertake a review of the various local gun laws in the state, particularly the requirement in Clark County that handgun owners register their weapons, to ensure their constitutionality. Hansen would then challenge any that violate the Second Amendment.

“I’m the most qualified and experienced candidate in this race,” he said. “And I don’t think anyone can deny that. That’s the truth.”


Audio clips:

Masto says she has worked to combat methamphetamine abuse in her first term:

092410Masto1 :19 a phenomenal job.”

Masto says she has worked directly with her Mexican counterparts to fight drug trafficking:

092410Masto2 :18 of our countries.”

Masto says she works collaboratively with law enforcement and others to make scarce resources go further:

092410Masto3 :27 find the solutions.”

Masto says she has focused on the issues that mean most to Nevadans:

092410Masto4 :17 going to focus.”

GOP AG candidate Travis Barrick says he has integrity and owes no one any favors:

092410Barrick1 :24 have not received.”

Barrick says Masto not working on important issues:

092410Barrick2 :13 of Prison Commissioners.”

Barrick says he would tackle prison problems as attorney general:

092410Barrick3 :17 other for it.”

Barrick says miners and ranchers aren’t being represented:

092410Barrick4 :09 are being represented.”

IAP AG candidate Joel Hansen says he has already challenged health care law on his own:

092410Hansen1 :47 way we want.”

Hansen says he would emulate Ohio AG and seek damages from Wall Street for Nevada investors:

092410Hansen2 :36 know about it.”

Hansen says Masto wasted time on Krolicki prosecution instead of recouping money lost by Nevada investors:

092410Hansen3 :17 did for Nevada.”

Hansen says he is the most qualified candidate:

092410Hansen4 :17 that’s the truth.”

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley Supports Ground Zero Mosque Construction, Says May Run for Senate In 2012

By Sean Whaley | 10:05 am August 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley Thursday defended the right of mosque supporters to build their facility near Ground Zero in New York City, saying she supports religious freedom for all.

“I am supporting the Constitution when it comes to this issue,” Berkley, D-Nev., said. “As long as the zoning is appropriate and as long as the funding mechanism is appropriate; this mosque is being built on private property two blocks away from Ground Zero and I do not think the government ought to be involved in this decision-making process.”

Berkley said she respects the views and concerns of those who were victimized by the 9-11 attacks and who believe the mosque location is inappropriate.

“But what we’re talking about here is Constitutional protections afforded all Americans,” she said.

Berkley, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, also said she is “thinking about” running for U.S. Sen. John Ensign’s seat in 2012 but is focused now on her re-election to District 1 in Southern Nevada. Once the current campaign is over, Berkley said she will give the race more thought.

Asked if she would run if Rep. Dean Heller, R-NV, was the GOP opponent, Berkley said her decision would not be based on who was in the race from the opposition party. The race is likely to draw a number of candidates from both parties, she said.

“Senate seats don’t come up very often, and I suspect there will be a very robust campaign and primary on the Republican side and possibly on the Democratic side as well,” Berkley said.

Ensign is exploring the possibility of running for another term even though he has suffered significant political fallout after admitting in 2009 to an affair with a former staff member. An ethics investigation into how he handled the situation is under way.

Asked about the likelihood of Congress taking up immigration reform, Berkley said the issue needs to be addressed now.

“We should have addressed the immigration issue in this country 20 years ago,” she said. “It is getting worse by the day and if we continue to kick this can down the road it is not getting any better. Congress has got to step up to the plate and do our job.”

Berkley said comprehensive reforms should not include amnesty, but should find a way to address how to deal with the 12 million people residing illegally in the U.S.

In Congress fails to act, the country will see 50 different laws dealing with illegal immigration as states respond to the vacuum created without national reforms, she said. But Berkley said there are adequate laws on the books to deal with border security and illegal immigration. They just need to be enforced, she said.


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says she supports mosque construction on religious freedom grounds:

081910Berkley1 :23 this decision-making process.”

Berkley says she is thinking about a run for Senate in 2012:

081910Berkley2 :24 side as well.”

Berkley says Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform:

081910Berkley3 :30 are here illegally.”

Clark County Benefitting From Federal Strategy To Enhance Identification, Removal Of Criminal Aliens

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:26 pm July 27th, 2010

Today U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began using a new biometric information sharing capability in Clark County that helps federal immigration officials identify aliens, both lawfully and unlawfully present in the United States, who are booked into local law enforcement custody for a crime.

The capability is part of Secure Communities, ICE’s comprehensive strategy to improve and modernize the identification and removal of criminal aliens from the U.S.

Previously, fingerprint-based biometric records taken of individuals charged with a crime and booked into local custody were checked for criminal history information against the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).

Now, through enhanced information sharing between the DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), that fingerprint information will be automatically checked against both the FBI criminal history records in IAFIS and the biometrics-based immigration records in DHS’s Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT).

If fingerprints match those of someone in DHS’s biometric system, the new automated process notifies ICE, enabling federal authorities to prioritize immigration enforcement action against individuals who are potentially deportable based on their criminal convictions. Top priority is given to criminal aliens who pose the greatest threat to public safety, such as those convicted of major drug offenses, murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping.

“The Secure Communities strategy provides ICE with an effective tool to identify criminal aliens in local custody,” said Secure Communities Executive Director David Venturella. “Enhancing public safety is at the core of ICE’s mission. Our goal is to use biometric information sharing to remove criminal aliens, preventing them from being released back into the community, with little or no additional burden on our law enforcement partners.”

With the expansion of Secure Communities to Clark County, the biometric information sharing capability is now being used in more than 450 jurisdictions in 25 states. Clark County is the second jurisdiction in Nevada to gain this capability. Secure Communities was activated in Washoe County earlier this month. ICE expects to make it available in jurisdictions nationwide by 2013.

Since its inception in October 2008, Secure Communities has led to the deportation of more than 9,800 criminal aliens nationwide who had convictions for Level 1 crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping. Additionally, the biometric information sharing capability has resulted in the removal of more than 24,800 criminal aliens convicted of Level 2 and 3 crimes, including burglary and serious property crimes, which account for the majority of crimes committed by aliens.

The IDENT system is maintained by DHS’s US-VISIT program and IAFIS is maintained by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS).

“US VISIT is proud to support ICE, helping provide decision makers with comprehensive, reliable information when and where they need it,” said US-VISIT Director Robert Mocny. “By enhancing the interoperability of DHS’s and the FBI’s biometric systems, we are able to give federal, state and local decision makers information that helps them better protect our communities and our nation.”

“Under this plan, ICE will be utilizing FBI system enhancements that allow improved information sharing at the state and local law enforcement level based on positive identification of incarcerated criminal aliens,” said Daniel D. Roberts, assistant director of the FBI’s CJIS Division. “Additionally, ICE and the FBI are working together to take advantage of the strong relationships already forged between the FBI and state and local law enforcement necessary to assist ICE in achieving its goals.”

Sandoval Statement on Immigration Perp Rulings: My policy was to get these offenders out of our communties

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:33 pm May 21st, 2010

A statement from Brian Sandoval re: his bench rulings that waived prison time and instead ordered probation and small fines for illegal immigrants:

“This is a very common practice, for a very logical reason — To get the criminal in federal custody as soon as possible so they can be deported and off the backs of the Nevada taxpayer as quickly as possible. Detaining them here, at considerable cost to Nevadans only delays the deportation process.

My policy was to get these offenders out of our communities – now. If the federal government did their jobs in securing our borders we wouldn’t have to worry about illegal immigrants committing crimes or those that have been deported coming back. It’s as simple as that.”

Sum-up:  Everyone does it.  It’s for the good of the taxpayers.  And it’s the fault of the feds that we’re even having this discussion.

I do see Sandoval’s point about swift deportation being the fastest, easiest thing for federal judges to arrange, but at what point does someone — anyone? — come up with something better to do or say, especially where repeat offenders are concerned? And why did/do at least two Nevada judges seem to disagree that swift deportation is always the answer?

Maybe NNB needs to poll the state’s federal and Supreme Court justices as well as some public officials so we can see where everyone stands and compare Sandoval’s perspective.

Also, re: the Rodriguez-Guzman case, Sandoval says he originally sentenced Guzman to 30 months and applied a 16-level enhancement (whatever that is) based on the prior conviction for statutory rape. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals then reversed the decision and remanded the case back to Sandoval for resentencing based on the sentence being excessive, in their opinion. Guzman was then sentenced to 20 months.

Screwed by the Ninth Circuit!  Sandoval is not alone on that one.

Sandoval’s Past Sentencing of Criminal Illegal Aliens – Part 2

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:29 am May 21st, 2010

In response to my post yesterday about Brian Sandoval’s judicial record of light sentencing for a number of criminal illegal aliens, Sandoval spokesperson Mary-Sarah Kinner brings a story (written in 2007 by our own Sean Whaley when he was with the LVRJ) to my attention.

The piece was about lawmakers recommending to Corrections Department officials that they seek the release and deportation of hundreds of illegal immigrants in the prison system as a partial solution to overcrowding.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley both went on record supporting deportation.

So did State Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty, at least for those illegal immigrant inmates serving time for nonviolent crimes.  Hardesty reasoned that if deported inmates returned to Nevada and were apprehended, they would have to serve any additional sentence in federal prison.

Fine, well and good.

But in five of the eight cases I cited yesterday, the individual in question had already been deported at least once.  And Sandoval only ordered one of them to serve prison time.  In that one case, Javier Rodriguez-Guzman was finally given two years in the slammer — after being apprehended and deported six times between 2000 and 2005.

However, the other four who did not get time behind bars were given probation and a small fine. Even if they were all immediately deported, it was then (at least) the second time in their history that deportation was privileged over serving time in federal institution.

And that does not meet the standard Justice Hardesty stated he thought should apply in these cases, nor does it meet the stated intention of District Court Judge David Gamble in the case of Juan Ramon Sepulveda-Leon.  Gamble told the ex-felon in 2005 that if he returned to the United States, he would get 1-3 years time in prison.  Sepulveda did return, but Sandoval gave him time served, three years supervised release (probation) and a $100 fine.

Whether you think Sandoval did right or wrong in each of these cases, the point is that he has recently taken a Tough-on-Immigration-Law stance (along with most of the rest of the GOP candidates) but at least part of his record on the federal bench does not seem to support his place on that bandwagon.

Sandoval’s Rhetoric vs. Record on Immigration Issues

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:32 pm May 20th, 2010

Political Eye at the LVRJ today reports that Brian Sandoval is finally up with an Issues page on his campaign website.  Nothing like waiting until the week before early voting starts to fully populate your website with information the electorate might need in order to make its decision.

But I digress.

What I really want to write about is Brian Sandoval’s rhetoric on immigration issues vs. his record on the federal bench.  First, his stated stance, from the Immigration section of his Issues page:


I oppose amnesty. As a Federal Judge, I saw both sides of the immigration issue. It was my duty to sentence undocumented immigrants for their crimes, but it was also my honor to swear in new Americans and to see the smiles and pride on their faces as they completed the process of becoming a citizen.

We must be able to verify that those individuals who work in our country are here legally and are eligible for work. Businesses who knowingly hire illegal immigrants should be held accountable.

I believe that we must enforce our laws, secure our borders and respect the efforts of those who have become a citizen through the proper legal process.

The American Dream is alive and well, but it must be pursued legally.

Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

I oppose giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Nevada law requires proof of legal residency and a social security number to obtain a driver’s license. I support the law and oppose any changes to the law.

That’s the rhetoric.  Now here’s the record:

While on the federal bench, Sandoval repeatedly waived or reduced prison sentences and doled out minimum fines to criminal illegal immigrants who were repeat offenders, at least one of them over the strong objections of federal prosecutors.

Here are some examples [including case information]:

Arnulfo Reyes-Barajas

Reyes-Barajas was indicted and arrested in January 2008 on a charge of re-entering the U.S. illegally after being deported. A sentencing memorandum in the case by U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre stated: “Suspended from school for fighting, on probation for carrying a concealed weapon, and, while on probation, shooting and injuring a person in a public parking lot, the defendant was deported after his conviction for Assault with a Deadly Weapon and service of state prison time. Thereafter, without the express consent of the Attorney General or his designated successor…defendant illegally returned to the United States.”

The U.S. Probation Office recommended that Reyes-Barajas receive probation on the re-entry charge.

The U.S. Attorney objected and said: “The record must be clear: the defendant has yet to be punished for his continuing offense of illegal re-entry by an alien who has a prior aggravated felony conviction. In what appears to be an unprecedented step, Probation recommends that the Court disregard the defendant’s applicable Sentencing Guidelines range of 42-51 months and sentence the defendant to time served. A proposed departure of this magnitude – more than 90% of the applicable guidelines range – is at odds with the Court’s obligation to consult the Sentencing Guidelines when determining an appropriate sentence under 18 U.S.C. Section 3553(a)(4).”

Despite sentencing guidelines and over the strong objections of the U.S. Attorney, Judge Sandoval sentenced Reyes-Barajas to time served, three years of supervised release and a $100 fine. [Case #3:07-cr-00071, U.S. District Court, Reno, Nevada]

Juan Ramon Sepulveda-Leon

Sepulveda-Leon was indicted in August 2008 for illegal re-entry into the U.S. He also was found to have a prior (2004) felony conviction in Douglas County on a drug trafficking charge (NRS 453.3385). Sandoval sentenced Sepulveda-Leon to time served, three years supervised release and a $100 fine. [Case #3:08-cr-068, U.S. District Court, Reno, Nevada]

Douglas County court records show that Sepulveda-Leon was arrested in an undercover narcotics operation on Dec. 8, 2004. He entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced on March 8, 2005 to up to three years of probation.

One of the conditions of Sepulveda-Leon’s probation was that if deported, he would not return to the U.S. Judge Gamble told Sepulveda-Leon at his sentencing hearing that if he was deported and returned to the U.S., he would be back before the court, which would then sentence him to 1-3 years in prison. Sepulveda-Leon was deported on June 6, 2005.

J. Reyes Vasquez-Castaneda

Vasquez-Castaneda was indicted in August 2008 for being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm – a .30-caliber/20 gauge, over-and-under shotgun. Sandoval sentenced him to time served, three years of supervised release and a $100 fine. [Case #3:08-cr-0076, U.S. District Court, Reno, Nevada]

Rafael Flores Pastor

Pastor was charged in October 2007 with illegal re-entry after being arrested while working under an assumed name at a McDonald’s restaurant in Reno. A background check determined that Pastor had a felony conviction on drug trafficking charges in Washoe County in 1997 and had been sentenced to seven years in Nevada State Prison. Judge Sandoval sentenced him to time served on the current charge, three years of supervised release and a $100 fine. [Case #3:07-cr-00081, U.S. District Court, Reno]

Fidel Miramontes-Sanchez

Miramontes-Sanchez was charged in a March 29, 2006 indictment by a federal grand jury with illegal re-entry into the U.S. after returning to the U.S. following his deportation to Mexico in August 2000.  He was arrested in July 2003 when he was found in Nevada.

Miramontes-Sanchez was charged under a section of the federal criminal code that allows for up to two years in jail. But Judge Sandoval accepted a plea agreement allowing Miramontes-Sanchez to pay a $100 fine and be placed on “supervised release” for three years. If he was not deported, Miramontes-Sanchez was required to report to his probation office, but he was released from custody. [Case 3:06-cr-00053, U.S. District Court, Reno, Nevada]

Michele Nino DeGuzman

In July 2005, DeGuzman was indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts of making and using false Alien Registration cards and Social Security cards under three different names. The charge was a class 3 felony with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Based on a plea agreement accepted by Judge Sandoval, two of the three counts were dismissed, and DeGuzman was sentenced to 48 months of probation, 100 hours of community service and a $100 fine. [Case 3:05-cr-00151, U.S. District Court, Reno, Nevada]

Julio Anguiano Cervantes

Cervantes was indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2006 on three counts of aggravated identity theft and fraudulent use of a Social Security number. According to the indictment, Cervantes used the name of another individual and that individual’s Social Security number to seek employment at Bender Warehouse Company.

A plea agreement in Cervantes’ case said: “The defendant is aware he is subject to removal from the United States for being an alien present in the United States without proper authority. The defendant stipulates to his removal (deportation) from the United States and will cooperate with Immigration Officials to effect his removal.”

Judge Sandoval had the option of sending Cervantes to prison before his deportation, but instead sentenced him to time already served, three years of supervised release and an assessment of $200. [Case 3:06-cr-00118, U.S. District Court, Reno, Nevada]

Javier Rodriguez-Guzman

Rodriguez-Guzman was indicted in October 2005 on a charge of illegally re-entering the U.S., after being apprehended and deported to Mexico numerous times: May 9, 2000; May 18, 2000; June 9, 2000; December 4, 2002; October 14, 2003; and April 12, 2005.  Rodriguez-Guzman was in Washoe County Jail in September 2005 when a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent identified Rodriguez-Guzman as an illegal immigrant during a routine review of booking information.

With a sentence of up to two years possible, and based on a plea agreement, Judge Sandoval sentenced Rodriguez-Guzman to 20 months in federal prison with credit for time served, imposed a $100 fine and supervised release for three years after Rodriguez-Guzman left prison.

A pre-sentencing report in the case revealed that besides his numerous prior arrests and deportations, Rodriguez-Guzman had been convicted in California in April 2002 on a charge of statutory rape. [Case 3:05-cr-00203, U.S. District Court, Reno, Nevada]


Team Sandoval’s response (via spokesperson Mary-Sarah Kinnear) when asked about these cases:

“Judge Sandoval was tough but fair and each case had a unique set of facts, but in almost every case, if the sentence was reduced it was usually to speed up deportation. Judge Sandoval has won the endorsement of law enforcement both as Attorney General and as a candidate for Governor. His respect for the law is beyond reproach.”

Not sure how a reduced sentence speeds up deportation (perhaps it does) and/but not sure why that would be the big goal…as deportation clearly did not work the first time around in each of these cases.  It seems to me that with a repeat offender, you might want to do a little punishing first and then deport, just to make a point.

I asked those questions of Team Sandoval as a follow-up and will post an update here when they come in.

Latest Rasmussen #s on US Senate

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:38 am April 29th, 2010

Here’s the poll.

Snippets and comments:

– Harry Reid’s support still at around 40%

With TV ads hitting this week, we’ll see if Reid can gain some points.

–Reid unfavorables at 47% with favorables at 23%

– Lowden v. Reid match-up = 52-39%

– Lowden is viewed very favorably by 15% of Nevada voters and very unfavorably by 19%

Hm!  Unfavorables there are up a bit.  Due to Bartergate and the media’s obsession with chicken puns, no doubt.

– Tarkanian v. Reid = 51-41%

– 19% have a very favorable opinion of Tarkanian, while 15% regard him very unfavorably

– Angle v. Reid = 48-40%

– Angles very favorables are at 9% with very unfavorables at 11%

Tea Party Express is raising money and now up with ads for her, so we’ll see what happens.

– 53% of Nevadans favor health care reform repeal (national #s are at 58%) while 44% oppose

– 57% of Nevada voters favor immigration legislation like AZ’s while 31% oppose

– 60% of voters in the state say America is overtaxed, compared to 66% of voters nationwide

Face to Face: Assemblymen John Hambrick, Mo Denis Weigh In on Immigration

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:47 pm April 26th, 2010

Tonight on Ralston’s Face to Face, Assemblyman Mo Denis and John Hambrick talked about the new immigration law in Arizona.

SB 1070 states:  “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official, where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the Unites States, a reasonable attempt shall be made when praticable to determine the immigration status of the person.”

Mo Denis questioned the definition and after-determination of the word “reasonable,” saying, “It’s going to be different to different people,” and asking about those who might be profiled, “What do they look like? Are we talking Canadian? Are we talking Asian-American? Are we talking Hispanic?”

Denis expressed concerns with the high ratio of Hispanics residing in Arizona, saying, “I think that is problematic because I think you’re then singling out one specific race.”

Hambrick disagreed. “When you have 460,000 and the vast majority happens to be a particular ethnic group, you cannot racial profile, the pool is so large,” he said.

Hambrick defended the Arizona bill based on relatively high in-state support.  “When 70% of a state, according to media reports, agree with it, that is not 70% that are Anglo.  70% of the state, that is a good mixture, whether it is Latino or Anglo. They agree it is needed,” he said.

“Unfortunately a rancher died a few weeks ago, and there was a catalyst,” he said.

Hambrick said many voters feel the federal government has let them down on the issue of immigration.

“This administration made promises prior to coming in that certain benchmarks would be met in the first year. That has not happened,” he said. “Hopefully what happens now in Arizona will be a catalyst to force Washington to get off their bottoms.”

Hambrick acknowledged there are issues with enforcement and racial profiling but said training of enforcement officers is the answer.

“The government has said that there will be training,” said Hambrick.

“What is reasonable?” he asked. “Yes, it is in the eye or the mind of the person that is behind the badge that has made that stop.”

“Their life experinces, and the different communities they come from, if the police officer happens to be Hispanic and is dealing with a Hispanic, there is a different reasonable expectation of what will be happening there,” Hambrick said.  “If it’s an Anglo and a Hispanic, again, the community will have to judge whether that police offer has done his job adequately, fairly and objectively. And that will be determined by a court.”

Answering a question about fears that the law will become oppressive and that every ethnic person will have to walk around with proof of citizenship in their pocket, Denis said it is a valid concern.

“We are familiar with 287-G, that’s been going on even here, we have been dealing with that, trying to get people to step forward on crimes, and now they are afraid,” Denis said.

(Denis said 287-G permits Nevada authorities to ask about a person’s immigration status when they are in county jail.)

“And, but, you know, people do not trust that,” said Denis. “They think that maybe some of the police officers—  You know, we have had meetings with some of the individuals here, and there are some concerns that really need to dealt with, and even with that issue, so I can see where, you know, if you’re looking for somebody reasonable, what is it that somebody looks like… And do we really have to all walk around with papers, so we can prove our citizenship?”

Both Hambrick and Denis agreed immigration reform could be an issue in the campaigns, and that Nevada voters are generally concerned with immigration policy.

Rory Against, Gibbons and Sandoval for AZ-style Immigration Law

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:12 pm April 26th, 2010

(Dear Rory:  I do hope you don’t mind me calling you Rory, but there are seven months between now and the general election and I am already SO tired of typing “Rory Reid” and “Harry Reid.”  This will just be so much better for me.  And you, too, maybe!  Love, E.)

Rory’s remarks against the new dealio down in AZ:

LAS VEGAS, NV – Rory Reid, Democratic candidate for governor, issued the following statement regarding passage of the new immigration law in Arizona:

“Instead of a common sense approach, what has occurred in Arizona is a wrong-headed approach to a serious issue – and that’s why Arizona law enforcement leaders, civil rights advocates, religious leaders and business groups oppose the bill,” said Reid. “It’s also evidence of what can happen in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.”

“On its face, this ill-conceived law opens the door to racial profiling and the violation of the fundamental civil rights of all Americans,” he continued. “You can’t determine whether someone is undocumented simply by the way they look, dress or speak.

“This law will also breach the important trust between law enforcement and the communities they protect, and divert resources away from critical incidents, where police are most needed.

“Nevadans can count on me to be a consistent advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and common sense solutions to this complicated issue.”

Ok.  What’s the comprehensive, common sense plan?  And will we hear about it before or after November 2?

And Gibbons:

(Carson City, Nevada) – Governor Jim Gibbons today demanded that President Barack Obama and his Administration take immediate steps to enforce federal immigration laws. “Guarding the borders of our great Nation is a federal responsibility that this Administration is ignoring,” Gibbons said, “Federal inaction is compelling states like Arizona to take state action and forcing state taxpayers to foot the bill.”

Recent statements from President Obama suggest he is trying to make immigration enforcement a political issue. “This President and this Administration, including Congressional Leaders Senator Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are shamelessly pandering for political gain, “Gibbons said, “These people should start acting like leaders and start enforcing federal laws”, Governor Gibbons said, “Instead, they blame others for their own ineffectiveness.”

Governor Gibbons noted the Administration is out of touch with society today. “Clearly the immigration system in this country is broken and is costing taxpayers billions of dollars,” Governor Gibbons said, “The Obama Administration must wake up and fix our immigration problems at the border.”

Gibbons believes the immigration laws in the United States must be modernized to reflect advancements in technology (facial recognition technology, biometric ID cards) and the changed world we live in today. “There are people crossing the border committing violent crimes and others who want to harm America through terrorism,” Gibbons said, “President Obama, Reid and Pelosi are ‘asleep at the switch’ and they must take action now or America families will continue to suffer.”

Did not see a press missive from Sandoval, but he said he supported the AZ law in Friday’s debate in Reno.

Update (7:43 PM): Statement from Sandoval:

“As a former federal judge, I believe it is important to follow the law. In this case, the law is very clear. Racial profiling is illegal and I do not support it. Also, if you are here illegally, you are breaking the law and should be subject to the consequences.

“The federal government has failed miserably at its responsibility to secure our borders. States like Arizona are now forced to deal with the results of that failure.

“That said, I do understand the Hispanic community’s concerns about this law and believe Arizona officials must pay close attention to the implementation of the new law.”

Not sure on Montandon; will update here if/when he chimes in (missed the gub portion of the debate so didn’t hear).