Tuesday, July 13, 2010 | 9:57 a.m.
CARSON CITY – Faced with a number of lawsuits, Las Vegas Assemblyman Chad Christensen has abandoned his initiative petition to enact an immigration law in Nevada similar to one in Arizona.
Ron Futrell, a spokesman for Christensen, said he expects the issue will still show up during the 2011 Legislature. He said it is estimated that state and local governments in Nevada spent $700 million in 2005 to educate, imprison and provide medical care for those in the country illegally.
A number of groups filed suit to block the Christensen petition and Futrell said that put it on hold, making it impossible to gather 97,002 signatures by Nov. 8.
If successful, it would have been submitted to the 2011 Legislature. If the Legislature rejected it, the plan would go on the 2012 ballot for voters to decide.
Christensen, an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate, is officially notifying the Secretary of State to withdraw the petition.
Christensen said several thousand signatures had been secured before the decision was made to give up the initiative petition.
The proposal was similar to Arizona, where a law enforcement officer stopping a person for another offense could require the person to show proof of citizenship. The Nevada plan would have imposed penalties on employers who knowingly hire people here illegally.
Futrell said Christensen raised the issue twice in prior sessions of the Legislature, suggesting that public funds not be spent for educating, providing medical care and imprisoning illegal immigrants. Those bills never got out of committee.