Nevada Immigration Reform Initiative (2012)

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Nevada Immigration Reform Initiative did not make the November 2012 statewide ballot in Nevada as an initiated state statute. The proposed measure called for authorizing police questioning a person's immigration status if there were any suspicions that they were illegal immigrants.[1]

The initiative emulated an April 23, 2010 approved immigration bill in Arizona. A repeal was filed days following it's approval. It also resembled a proposed initiative in Ohio to reform immigration throughout the state.

In early May 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Chad Christensen and currently Las Vegas assemblyman, said he was working on a draft for a Nevada Immigration Reform Initiative.[2] However, on July 13, 2010 Christensen said the initiative was derailed by legal challenges. The challenges, he said, made it impossible to collect the required signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.[3][4] Christensen added, "We came to the conclusion that we don’t want to spend millions of dollars and months of time on this issue to find out that it gets thrown out by a judge on a technicality."[5]


According to Christensen, the proposed initiative would have:[1]

  • direct law enforcement to determine the immigration status of a person during a lawful stop or arrest
  • prohibit state from banning "sending, receiving or maintaining information related to a person's immigration status or exchanging it with any other federal, state or local governmental entity for the purposes of determining eligibility."
  • allow legal residents to sue if government policies appear to limit enforcement of federal laws
  • prohibit hiring and picking up day laborers
  • prohibit illegal immigrants without work authorization from applying for a job or soliciting employment
  • make it illegal to transport, harbor or encourage illegal immigrants
  • authorize impoundment or forfeiture of vehicles driven by illegal immigrants or used to transport them
  • prohibit an employer from knowingly employing an unauthorized immigrant


In support of the initiative, sponsor Chad Christensen said, "It's time for the people of Nevada to stand together and let our voices be heard. Illegal immigration is costing the taxpayers in Nevada $700 million a year." Christensen argued that this was not an issue that could be delayed.[1]


Republican voter poll:

  • Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. Mason-Dixon (dead link) conducted a poll during May 2010, on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The telephone poll surveyed 500 "likely Republican primary voters." The survey asked voters whether they supported or opposed a Nevada law similar to the "Arizona immigration reform" passed in 2010. According to the poll, 85% were in support, while 8% were opposed and 7% said they were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.[6][7]


See also: Single-subject litigation

On June 18, the ACLU of Nevada and the Nevada Open for Business Coalition filed a lawsuit with the Carson District Court. The lawsuit requested that District Court Judge James Wilson block the proposed initiative. Specifically the suit asked the judge to prevent the initiative from being proposed to the legislature or to voters. According to the groups, the initiative violated the state's single-subject law. Additionally, they argued that the proposed measure "promotes racial profiling and would hurt the state's economy."[8][9] Of the alleged single-subject violation, the Nevada Open for Business Coalition specifically said, "It embraces numerous subjects — everything from enacting voter identification laws to creating task forces and advisory boards and to criminalizing the stopping of a vehicle to pick up passengers for work,” the coalition states."[10] The NAACP and others were included in the filed lawsuit. According to reports, the ACLU and the NAACP created a group called "What Happens in Arizona Stops in Arizona."[11]

A hearing was scheduled for August 9 in Carson City District Court. The initiative effort was dropped prior to the hearing of the case. "Had the cases been fully litigated, I’m pretty confident that we would have been vindicated and we would have won," said Maggie McLetchie, of the ACLU in Nevada.[5]

Path to the ballot

According to reports, supporters were required to collect 97,002 valid signatures to send it to the legislature. If the legislature had failed to act on the measure it would have been placed on the 2012 ballot.[8] However, on July 13, 2010 supporters announced that efforts to qualify the measure had been dropped. 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Chad Christensen and sponsor of the initiative said court challenges had derailed the initiative, leaving no room to collect sufficient signatures.[12]

See also

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