Cancela: Amended Immigration Bill Will Not Move Forward Now

A controversial immigration bill that would have codified certain law enforcement policies in state law, initially referred to as a “sanctuary state” bill, will not move forward in its current form, the primary sponsor said Tuesday.

Democratic Sen. Yvanna Cancela, who introduced SB223 last month, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that a “moderate bill to protect law enforcement from doing federal immigration work” in the form of barring officers from asking for immigration status “became inundated with misinformation and politicized with fear.” Her announcement comes just days after Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford scuttled a hearing on the bill on Friday that had been scheduled for Monday afternoon, saying the legislation wasn’t ready for a hearing.

Cancela and Sen. Tick Segerblom, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee where the bill would’ve been heard, indicated on Friday they were comfortable with the language of the bill and had no concerns about moving forward with it.

“Of course I’m disappointed. I worked hard to try and find a good compromise,” Cancela said in a statement. “Law enforcement did a tremendous job at being transparent with data and sharing ideas.”

The news sparked a wide range of reactions from the disappointment of progressive activists to the glee of Republican leaders.

Ford said in a statement that he shares “the disappointment that we’ve yet to come up with a solution that accomplishes the goals of providing a greater degree of protection to the immigrant community and protecting local law enforcement’s relationship with that community.”

But he said that “provoking an unpredictable, anti-immigration federal administration” when there isn’t consensus in the state would be “unwise,” adding that he is committed to working with all interested parties to determine what measures can be put in place to protect the immigration community while maintaining a positive relationship with local law enforcement.

Democratic Assemblyman Chris Brooks, who recently introduced a bill in the Assembly (AB357) identical to SB223, said that it would be “irresponsible” for him to continue pushing his legislation in its current form without a “clear path to passage and agreement from all stakeholders.”

“The last thing I would ever want to do is unintentionally motivate Trump to target Nevada’s undocumented community without getting any protections passed into law,” Brooks said in a statement. “From this point forward I will do all I can to find other ways we can protect all Nevadans through legislation.”

Cancela worked with law enforcement officers, immigration activists and other stakeholders in recent weeks to come up with a compromise to the original language of the bill, which would have barred state and local law enforcement from participating in federal immigration enforcement without a warrant. She proposed an amendment to her bill last week that would have more narrowly barred law enforcement officials from asking about an individual’s immigration status at the point of contact.