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May 26, 2015

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Nevada senators want more clout on border security

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Dean Heller

Dean Heller

WASHINGTON — Nevada’s senators have registered their first official complaint with the Senate’s immigration bill: it doesn’t give Nevada enough say about the southern border strategy.

Sen. Dean Heller filed an amendment to the immigration bill Wednesday morning to add a Nevadan to the Southern Border Security Commission, the group that will take over directing policy for the southern border if the Department of Homeland Security can’t achieve “effective control in all border sectors” within five years.

“Nevada’s unique location and position as a world-class travel destination leave it highly vulnerable to our nation’s flawed immigration system,” Heller said in a statement. “As a state that faces many of the same problems of other southern and southwestern border states like Arizona, Texas and California, Nevada deserves a seat at the table.”

Sen. Harry Reid signed on as co-sponsor Wednesday. But it not clear whether the senators who represent the actual border states will see Nevada’s interest in border security the same as their own.

Nevada does not share a border with Mexico, but Las Vegas, the state’s population center, is the only major American city in a non-border state that sits in closer proximity to the southern border than many parts of each of the four border states — Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

Las Vegas is also directly connected to the border city of San Diego via Interstate 15 and will be connected to southern Arizona via Interstate 11, once that highway is constructed.

As the immigration bill is written, the Southern Border Security Commission is made up of ten members: Two appointed by the president, two appointed by the Senate (one each on the recommendation of either party leader), two appointed by the House of Representatives (one each on the recommendation of either party leader), and one member from each of the four southern states, who must either be or be appointed by the state’s governor.

Heller’s amendment would add a fifth state representative from Nevada.

If approved, the measure would create a potential opportunity for more than one Nevadan to serve on the commission, as Governor Brian Sandoval would select one Nevadan to fill the state role, and Reid, as Senate Majority Leader, is already given the authority to recommend one of the Senate’s two picks for the commission.

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