Nevada’s high rate of unemployment (the nation’s highest at 14%) should make the proposed laws a shoo-in, so we must not let the people decide, must we!

The ACLU of Nevada and a southern Nevada business coalition have sued over a ballot initiative that would ask voters to approve tough immigration laws in Nevada similar to those in Arizona.

In their lawsuits filed Friday, the ACLU and the Nevada Open for Business Coalition ask Carson District Judge James Wilson to block the initiative from going to the Legislature or voters.

The groups contend it violates state law requiring petitions to contain only one subject, promotes racial profiling and would hurt the state’s economy. “Not only does the intent of the proposal blatantly violate America’s most fundamental values of fairness and equality, the expansive scope of it intentionally confuses voters,” American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Maggie McLetchie told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Assemblyman Chad Christensen, R-Las Vegas, the initiative’s sponsor, said his proposal provides protections against racial profiling and would save the state money in medical, education and incarceration costs for illegal immigrants. “Every time I debunk one of their bogus complaints they come up with something new,” he said.

Christensen said he will collect the required 97,002 signatures by a Nov. 9 deadline to have the “Nevada Immigration Verification” initiative considered by the 2011 Legislature. “We’ll hit our mark for sure,” he said.

If lawmakers fail to act or reject it, the petition would be put to voters in 2012.

Among other things, the initiative would require noncitizens to carry proof they are in the U.S. legally, require voters to present IDs at polls, prohibit illegal immigrants from applying for a job and make it illegal to transport or harbor illegal immigrants.

The Arizona law requires that police conducting traffic stops or questioning people about possible legal violations ask them about their immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they’re in the country illegally.

The ACLU filed its suit on behalf of an advocacy group called What Happens in Arizona Stops in Arizona, which includes the NAACP of Nevada and Robert Johnson, president of Gun Owners of Nevada.

Members of the business coalition include Assemblymen Mo Denis and Ruben Kihuen, both Las Vegas Democrats, and Latin Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Otto Merida.

Denis said the coalition reflects “a broad effort of a wide variety of business, gaming, labor and other community interests.” He said coalition members believe the petition would have a devastating impact on Nevada’s economy. Arizona’s new law already has cost that state nearly $100 million in lost revenue, he added. “We cannot afford that in Nevada,” Denis told the Nevada Appeal. “Every one of us would feel the economic impact of boycotts and lost business, something our state can ill afford in these challenging times.”

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