Nevada law enforcement from 17 counties gather for AG’s summit

Adam_Laxalt_mug_t198More than 100 law enforcement officials representing Nevada’s 17 counties are gathering in Carson City for a summit hosted by Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

The Thursday event is aimed at identifying emerging crime trends in Nevada and determining how different agencies can better work together. It’s also a networking opportunity for district attorneys and sheriffs from across the state, many who are new to the post.

The Republican attorney general says the program will include discussions about curbing domestic violence and human trafficking, among other issues.

Laxalt says ideas from attendees could end up being bills that go before the Nevada Legislature.


University of Nevada students protest Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s immigration stance

Adam Laxalt

Adam Laxalt

RENO — Dozens of University of Nevada students protested Wednesday against the state attorney general’s backing of a lawsuit aimed at nullifying President Obama’s executive actions blocking deportation of millions of immigrants in the country illegally.

Students stood silently at the noon rally on the Reno campus with signs that read “Stop separating families” and “We are all deportable.”

The school’s Latino Student Advisory Board organized the letter to Attorney General Adam Laxalt that says the lawsuit filed with two dozen other states constitutes a “war on immigrants.”

It says Laxalt’s defense of the suit is a waste of public resources and a threat to the unity of immigrant families throughout Nevada. It says Obama’s executive actions “validate the American Dream.”

Laxalt is right!, Laxalt supporter says

CARSON CITY — Attorney General Adam Laxalt got some high-profile support on Monday, as no less than the house organ of establishment capitalism — the Wall Street Journal — published an op-ed defending Laxalt from charges of overreaching on the issue of immigration.

Laxalt recently joined a lawsuit (Texas v. United States of America) that challenges President Barack Obama’s legal authority to implement an executive order on immigration that extends his previously implemented temporary deferrals on deporting so-called DREAMer children to their parents. Laxalt failed to ask Gov. Brian Sandoval directly about his opinion on the matter before adding Nevada to the lawsuit, and it became clear almost immediately that Sandoval disagreed.

Publicly, said the governor’s spokeswoman: “He [Sandoval] continues to believe that the best course of action is a legislative solution rather than legal action.”

But attorneys David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey disagree, and they had no problem making their views known on the Journal’s website.

First, it must be noted that Rivkin is not simply a disinterested concerned party. As Jon Ralston of first reported Monday, Rivkin is a campaign donor to Laxalt, having contributed $500 in February 2014. This fact is nowhere disclosed in the Journal piece, as it should have been. And while it is not dispositive of Rivkin’s points, readers are entitled to consider the connection. (Shall we next hear from Laxalt’s No. 1 supporter, former Gov.Bob List, about what he thinks of Laxalt’s actions? Why not send a letter to the Journal, Gov. List? They seem like easy marks.)

Now, to the substance of the Rivkin/Casey op-ed, which is behind a paywall and is quoted here sparingly in accordance with fair use rules.

• “Mr. Laxalt was right to join the suit. Mr. Sandoval’s legislative path will neither solve America’s vexing immigration problems nor rein in a president who has ignored the Constitution’s limits on executive power,” Rivkin and Casey write. It’s a curious stand, to be sure, and admits of the same error that lies at the heart of the litigation, which is that in the absence of legislative action, some extra-legislative action is required. While Obama chooses executive power, Riven, Casey and their friend Laxalt apparently choose judicial review.

The Constitution is clear, in Article 1, Section 8: Congress shall have the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization. And Congress has established such a rule, which the president has taken care to faithfully execute. Let us not forget that President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any previous president.

No, the question in Texas v. United States of America is undoubtedly a political one: it’s about the manner in which the president is executing the law, rather than a general neglect of his duty.

Although the Senate has passed a bi-partisan immigration reform bill, the House has failed to take up that measure, or any other, on the subject. This is the right of the House, just as it is the right of the executive to determine the most efficient way to go about implementing existing law. (More on that below.)

• Rivkin and Casey continue: “As the Supreme Court stated in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952), ruling against President Harry Truman’s seizure of the nation’s steel industry during the Korean War, ‘the President’s power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker.’”

But that case does not fit the facts of Obama’s action on immigration, which is less a seizure of an entire industry during a time of war and more of a practical (and smart) way of allocating the judicial resources of the United States.

For example, every person who drives faster than the posted speed limit is in violation of the law, and eligible to receive a ticket. The law provides no exemptions. But instead of ticketing every speeder (an impossible task, given limited resources) does anyone think the police chief is failing to enforce the law if he assigns his officers to concentrate their enforcement efforts in areas where speeding has caused deadly accidents?

Now, extend that idea to immigration. Let’s say two men came to the United States illegally 18 years ago. One is a habitual criminal, having been arrested and convicted of numerous felonies. The other is a family man who’s worked hard and raised a daughter whom he brought illegally into the country, a daughter who’s not about to go to college. Without question, both men have broken immigration laws. But it takes a specific kind of moral idiocy to say they are essentially equivalent cases. The president’s approach would be to start deportations with the criminal, while deferring (not forever, but temporarily) the latter.

This doesn’t make Obama a lawmaker, any more than the police chief in the previous example supplants the authority of the the state Legislature to set speed limits.

• More Rivkin/Casey: “However desirable immigration reform might be, congressional action won’t prevent this president from ignoring provisions in a new law that he dislikes or opposes. Only a determination by the courts that he has overstepped his constitutional authority can do that. Unless the president’s ability to play lawmaker is decisively defeated in litigation, congressional legislation on any contentious public-policy issue would be inherently futile.”

Let’s leave aside the obvious question — if the lawless emperor king Obama is willing to ignore the dictates of the legislative branch, what makes Rivkin and Casey so sure he’ll obey the dictates of the judicial? — in favor of another question: If Congress has the exclusive power to act, then should not Congress be the venue for this fight?

We all recall glumly the non-recess recess appointment case, which Rivkin and Casey fail to mention, although it offers them little help. The facts in that situation were clear: Obama tried to do something clearly illegal, and was repudiated by a unanimous court. But in this instance, it’s not even clear that Obama has done anything illegal (executive orders being fairly common among previous presidents when dealing with this issue), much less committed a legal violation worthy of a court right.

• Finally, one more: “All American states, including Nevada, have critical interests at stake here, both because of the burdens President Obama’s suspension of federal immigration law imposes on their state budgets and governments, but also because of their basic character as coequal sovereigns. The Constitution is a ‘grand bargain’ among the states and the American people. That bargain includes a powerful federal government, but one that has limited powers that may be exercised only in accordance with the institutional arrangements the Constitution creates.”

It’s not clear how a reading of Article VI (“This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in persuance thereof … shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby…”) establishes states as “coequal sovereigns.” But even if the federal government’s powers are limited, one of those powers is clearly reserved to it, the power to legislate on the issue of immigration. This political dispute lies between the Congress and the executive, and if the Congress objects to his actions, they can resolve the situation easily by passing a law in the regular order that prohibits Obama’s executive approach and prescribes a new policy.

In the end, that may very well be what a court tells Texas and its co-plaintiffs, including Nevada. That may be a timely reminder for Nevada’s new attorney general, who ought to be addressing himself to the real duties of his position, not questionable battles against alleged federal overreach.

Sandoval unsure if he can override Laxalt’s decision on immigration lawsuit

Attorney General Adam Laxalt

Attorney General Adam Laxalt

By Michelle Rindels and Riley Snyder, Associated Press

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval said Wednesday that he doesn’t think he legally can override the state’s challenge to an order that would spare more people from deportation, but he plans to talk with Attorney General Adam Laxalt about it in the next few days.
Sandoval made the comment Wednesday at an unrelated event in Carson City that took place just before a coalition of liberal groups launched a protest at Laxalt’s Las Vegas office. While Sandoval didn’t give prior consent to Nevada joining the suit, which includes 25 other states as plaintiffs, it’s not uncommon for attorneys general to pursue lawsuits on their own.

Critics said Sandoval should have done more to rein in Laxalt, a fellow Republican whom he endorsed in the past election, especially on such a heated issue.

“He’s the governor. He can’t act like he has no control over anything,” said spokeswoman Laura Martin of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, one of the groups involved in the protest. “Stop being aloof and be a governor.”

Laxalt announced Monday that Nevada would challenge President Barack Obama’s order to shield millions from deportation and allow them to apply for work permits. Obama promoted the move at a Las Vegas high school in November.

The attorney general acknowledged that the immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed but argued that the president was going about it illegally.

“The president cannot bypass the peoples’ elected representatives in Congress just because they do not pass the laws he wants, nor can he simply rewrite current law under the guise of ‘prosecutorial discretion,'” Laxalt said.

Obama has defended himself by pointing to his Democratic and Republican predecessors and saying presidents exercise “prosecutorial discretion all the time.”

Laxalt’s move to join the lawsuit drew sharp criticism from Democrats, including Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

“This is embarrassing,” Reid said in a statement. “No other state in the country will benefit more from President Obama’s executive actions than Nevada. The irresponsible decision to join a lawsuit that will cause family separation is harmful to our communities.”

An estimated 7.6 percent of Nevada residents are living in the country illegally — the largest share of any state, according to the Pew Research Center. Politicians are typically sensitive to how their immigration moves will appear to Nevada’s sizeable bloc of Hispanic voters, and Sandoval takes a more moderate tone on the matter than some Republican governors.

“Gov. Sandoval continues to encourage Congressional leadership and President Obama to work toward passing a bipartisan solution,” his spokeswoman, Mari St. Martin, said Monday. “He continues to believe that the best course of action is a legislative solution rather than legal action.”

While attorneys general at the federal level are typically in lockstep with the presidents who appoint them, the offices are elected separately in Nevada and an attorney general is independent of the governor.

What is more intriguing in this case is that while both men are Republicans and Sandoval supported Laxalt’s heated race for attorney general, their positions on immigration diverge.

“It’s politically a more interesting question than legally,” said Michael Kagan, an associate professor at Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “It shows two different visions in the Republican Party.”

Lawsuit over Obama immigration action divides Sandoval, Laxalt


adam_laxaltAttorney General Adam Laxalt announced today that Nevada will join a multistate coalition suing President Barack Obama’s contentious deportation deferral program, his first major publicized legal action and one he’s carrying out without the backing of Gov. Brian Sandoval.
“Our immigration system is broken and clearly needs to be fixed,” said Laxalt, who vowed to fight the president’s executive action shortly after it was announced in November. “The solution must be a permanent, legal result that includes, not ignores, the other branches of government and their constitutional roles.”

But Sandoval has distanced himself from his fellow Republican’s decision to join the suit, which now has the support of GOP officials from 26 states. The lead plaintiff is recently elected Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who filed the document in December while serving as that state’s attorney general. brian-sandoval-bong

“Gov. Sandoval’s position on President Obama’s executive order has not changed since his announcement in November. He believes our immigration system is broken and it is without question that comprehensive reform is necessary,” spokeswoman Mari St. Martin said in a prepared statement. “He continues to believe that the best course of action is a legislative solution rather than legal action.”

Nevada Democrats issued a statement calling the suit “partisan, irresponsible and mean-spirited” and said it was “nothing more than a slap in the face to Nevada’s immigrant community.”

“If Brian Sandoval and Adam Laxalt had their way, thousands of Nevadans could face deportation and countless families would be at risk of being torn apart,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chairwoman Roberta Lange wrote.

imageTexas Attorney General Ken Paxton, meanwhile, issued his own statement boasting that the suit now has the backing of officials from more than half of U.S. states.

“Texas is proud to lead a coalition that now includes a majority of the United States standing up against the president’s rogue actions,” Paxton said.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus called the suit “one more example of the Republican war on immigrants,” while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said “no other state in the country will benefit more from President Obama’s executive actions than Nevada.”

Almost half of all undocumented immigrants in Clark County qualify for deportation relief through Obama’s deferral programs, according to a study released earlier this month by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. And Nevada has the highest population share of undocumented immigrants in the country, according to the Pew Research Center.

Astrid Silva, an activist with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada who became the face of Obama’s immigration deal after getting a presidential shout-out in November, said Laxalt’s actions are misguided and “shameful.” Silva grew up undocumented in Las Vegas before qualifying for deportation relief through Obama’s 2012 action benefiting people who arrived in the country as children.

The suit has also gotten criticism from law enforcement officials throughout the country — a response filed in court earlier this month by a group of police chiefs and sheriffs argues that stopping Obama’s actions would harm public safety operations.

Metro Police spokeswoman Laura Meltzer said the department isn’t voicing an opinion on Laxalt’s plans.

“That’s between the attorney general and the federal government,” Meltzer said. “It’s not our place to get in the middle of it. We just enforce the laws that are on the books.”

Nevada joins lawsuit challenging Obama’s action on immigration

adam_laxaltBy LAURA MYERS
Nevada has joined a lawsuit with more than two dozen states challenging President Barack Obama’s executive action that would protect 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced Monday, saying the president is “undermining the rule of law.”

“Our immigration system is broken and clearly needs to be fixed,” Laxalt said in a statement. “But just as clearly, the solution is not for the president to act unilaterally disregarding the U.S. Constitution and laws. The solution must be a permanent, legal result that includes, not ignores, the other branches of government and their constitutional roles.

“Anything less is a false hope undermining the rule of law that injures millions of people in America, including many in Nevada,” Laxalt added.

Texas filed the original lawsuit after Obama in November expanded a program to shield from deportation immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. He also offered protection to undocumented immigrants who are relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents so families wouldn’t be separated.

The president said he took action because Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, although Obama waited until after the Nov. 4 election in an effort to avoid hurting Democrats at the ballot box.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid-D-Nev., defended Obama and criticized Laxalt for joining the lawsuit.

“This is embarrassing,” Reid said in a statement. “No other state in the country will benefit more from President Obama’s executive actions than Nevada. The irresponsible decision to join a lawsuit that will cause family separation is harmful to our communities.”

Reid said Obama “acted within his legal authority” by taking executive action and that every president dating back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower “has used his executive authority to make our immigration system more effective.”

“There is no question we need a permanent solution to fix our broken system,” Reid said. “I wish Republicans would focus their efforts on passing comprehensive legislation rather than baseless lawsuits that hurt Nevada families. ”

Nevada Democratic Party Chairwoman Roberta Lange also slammed both Laxalt and GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval for joining the lawsuit, saying they “have just sent a clear message to Nevada immigrants that appealing to the anti-immigrant, Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is more important to them than keeping families together.”

“If Brian Sandoval and Adam Laxalt had their way, thousands of Nevadans could face deportation and countless families would be at risk of being torn apart,” Lange said in a statement. “I urge Gov. Sandoval to insist Attorney General Laxalt withdraw from this partisan, irresponsible, and mean-spirited lawsuit that is nothing more than a slap in the face to Nevada’s immigrant community.”

But Laxalt said Obama should have worked on immigration with Congress, which has sole authority to enact laws.

“The president cannot bypass the peoples’ elected representatives in Congress just because they do not pass the laws he wants, nor can he simply rewrite current law under the guise of ‘prosecutorial discretion,’” Laxalt said.

Laxalt, a Republican, won election in November, partly on a promise to challenge federal overreach.

About 145,000 undocumented people live in the Silver State, according to the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Some 53,000 of them are eligible for deferred action under Obama’s Nov. 20 executive actions, the group said, adding that if those immigrants got temporary work permits, it would lead to a $21 million increase in tax revenues over five years.

Obama, in announcing his executive action, used Astrid Silva, the organizing director of PLAN, as an example of an undocumented youth who is allowed to live and work here with her family under the actions he has taken.

“Adam Laxalt’s misguided and politically motivated attack on the President could affect thousands of families right here in Nevada,” Silva said in a statement. “The President acted with his full legal authority to set enforcement priorities and help keep families together. It is shameful that Laxalt would divert scarce resources from Nevada to pursue this political agenda and ensure that we maintain the status quo of a broken immigration system.”

Nevada became the 26th state to get involved in the lawsuit, which is pending in the Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas. In addition to Nevada and Texas, the states represented in the lawsuit include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.