Lawmakers approved AB376, which makes a $500,000 appropriation to UNLV’s Immigration Clinic to expand legal defense services for immigrants in deportation proceedings. Immigrants going through the deportation process are not guaranteed a lawyer, and assistance often makes the difference between achieving legal status and being expelled from the country.

The bill also creates a Keep Nevada Working Task Force within the lieutenant governor’s office, and calls on the group to research ways to strengthen career pathways for immigrants. 

The measure was significantly downgraded from its earlier version, which prohibited local police from detaining people at the request of immigration authorities unless there was an arrest warrant for that person. The version that the full Legislature passed requires the attorney general to develop model policies for limiting collaboration as much as practicable between local police and federal immigration enforcement personnel. 

Local agencies are required to either adopt policies consistent with those recommended by the attorney general’s office or notify the office as to why they aren’t being adopted. 

Immigrant advocates say local police collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers has eroded trust with communities, leading many people to avoid reporting crimes committed against them because they fear deportation if they call for help.

A Republican measure to explicitly allow so-called 287(g) partnerships between Nevada police agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement died without a hearing. Major law enforcement agencies including the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department scrapped their partnership with ICE amid questions about the constitutionality of the program’s practice, although activists say informal collaborations still happen, and some agencies such as the Nye County Sheriff’s Office have continued with 287(g) in spite of legal ambiguity.