Mr. Sessions, here’s why Las Vegas doesn’t support you on immigration


Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions gestures as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Wed, Jul 12, 2017 (2 a.m.)

Welcome to America’s future, Jeff Sessions, or at least the one that will happen if you and your boss don’t wreck it.

You may not be aware of this, but your visit to Southern Nevada comes on the heels of a New York Times analysis showing that our region most closely resembles how the nation will look in 35 years in terms of ethnic diversity. Here’s how it breaks down, based on the Times’ projections of current population trends:

Southern Nevada 2016 — 44 percent white, 31 percent Hispanic, 11 percent black and 14 percent other.

U.S. in 2051 — 47 percent white, 27 percent Hispanic, 13 percent black, 14 percent other.

This is not cause for alarm, as you’d see if you spent a little time in Las Vegas and laid off the Breitbart News Kool-Aid for a while.

What you’d find out is that our economy has improved significantly since the recession, our unemployment rate is at a relatively low 4.8 percent and our quality of life is greatly enhanced by the economic and cultural contributions of our rich mix of immigrant residents. We welcomed just shy of 43 million visitors last year, are on pace to bring in even more this year and are building houses and apartments as fast as we can to handle an influx of new residents.

As suggested by the results of last year’s election, our voters support protections for immigrants. Not only did Clark County residents overwhelmingly turn out for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, we sent strong Democratic majorities to the Legislature in backlash to a Republican takeover of both the Assembly and Senate in 2015.

Our governor, who has taken a moderate stance on immigration enforcement, has approval ratings that Donald Trump could only dream of at this point. Our largest labor organization, the Culinary Union, strongly advocates for immigrants’ rights, as many of its members are legal immigrants with family members and friends who are living here without documentation and striving to become citizens.

In short, Las Vegas is not the hell that you and your boss would like people to believe is the inevitable result of allowing illegal immigrants to live in the U.S.

You and those like you have characterized undocumented immigrants as criminals who take Americans’ jobs, drive down wages and draw more from the economy by use of public benefits than they produce in taxes and work product.

That’s wrong, and we know it in Southern Nevada. Immigrants pay sales taxes, support local businesses and often take jobs for which qualified U.S. citizens don’t apply. As for concerns about immigrants and crime, the fact is that while the share of immigrants in the U.S. population increased significantly between 1990 and 2013, rates for violent crimes and property crimes dropped 48 and 41 percent over that time.

So that’s why we value our immigrant communities in Las Vegas. We’ve shown that by embracing immigrant-friendly policies like DACA and DAPA, a community can enrich itself not only financially but culturally while promoting the fundamental American value of welcoming immigrants and offering them a better life.

As for immigrants who commit crimes, they were already being arrested and deported before you became attorney general, and that’s still the case today.

So the bottom line is it simply wasn’t necessary for you and Trump to widen the net on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arrests to include non-violent offenders. To the contrary, you’ve created a chilling effect that has resulted in immigrants being afraid to report crimes and criminals having an opportunity to prey on them with virtually no consequences. Meanwhile, well-meaning families — our neighbors — are being split apart.

We don’t expect any of this to change your stance. We offer it only to show you why Southern Nevada doesn’t embrace you or your boss.

We’ve seen the future — at least the future without your interference — and we like it.

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