LAS VEGAS -- The Arizona state leader who helped create that state's controversial immigration law is hoping to spread the idea. He came to Las Vegas and found a receptive politician in Nevada State Assemblyman and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chad Christensen.
Christensen met with Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce in front of the Las Vegas INS office.
"The first step is we cut off the gravy train -- we cut off all the financial support," he said. "We need to get aggressive on this really quick. As a legislator, I know first hand that the state cannot continue to pay."
Governor Jim Gibbons resists the call for a special session, saying immigration reform is a federal responsibility.
"I think a lot of it has to do with politics. The sad part about it is the State of Nevada can't do anything about immigration reform," he said.
Pearce has spoken approvingly of a 1950's INS deportation roundup titled "Operation Wetback." Back then, agents went into Hispanic neighborhoods and rounded up illegal immigrants. Pearce says he hopes illegal immigrants will chose self-deportation instead.
"I've never advocated roundups. I've advocated to enforce the law, one traffic stop at a time," he said.
Self-deportation is happening on a small scale at immigration attorney Reza Athari's office. His waiting room is full.
Athari says his clients are worried about police detainment and claims to know a couple of families moving from Arizona to Nevada because of this fear.
"We can't take out 12 million out of the work force and expect nothing to happen. That would collapse the whole economy," he said.
Without Governor Gibbons' support, Christensen's chances for a special session are unlikely. But both sides of this immigration debate seem to agree on one thing: Arizona's choice may force the entire country to take action soon.
Progressive group Reform Immigration for America plans on holding another rally this Friday protesting Las Vegas visit from Phoenix-area Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
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