By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Nevada Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said today he does not believe Congress will move forward with any type of immigration reform this year because the issue is too controversial for Democrats in an election year.
“The reason Arizona did what they did was out of frustration, absolute frustration over the federal government,” he said. “It is a hot, hot topic. And I think if it comes up, especially if it includes amnesty, which I am opposed to, it would be an issue that I don’t think the majority party wants in front of them coming into November.”
Heller, who said he has been talking about the need to deal with the immigration issue since being elected to Congress in District 2, made his comments on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.
Asked if the failure of the U.S. government to act on the issue could result in multiple and conflicting laws across the country as states and local governments take action on their own, Heller said Arizona’s law actually parallels the federal government law on the issue.
“Arizona’s law is not that different than the federal law,” he said. “The only difference is in Arizona they can’t deport. The federal government is the only one that can deport. I think this thing has gotten blown out of proportion.”
Heller said he does not believe the state of Arizona is as concerned about the potential backlash from its new immigration law as it is the cost of dealing with illegal immigrants. Several jurisdictions across the country have imposed or are considering travel boycotts to the state.
“Right now I don’t think they care about the backlash, what they are worried about is the cost that is coming to Arizona; what they have to bear,” he said.
Heller also said Congress needs to take action to make it easier for transmission lines to be built across Nevada so the state can take advantage of its geothermal, solar and wind energy potential.
Those energy opportunities cannot be developed without the transmission lines to move the electricity, he said.
“Geothermal to Reno could be what oil is to Houston,” he said. “The problem is 85 percent of the land is owned by the federal government. We can’t get transmission lines. So it doesn’t matter how many geothermal sites you may have in Northern Nevada if you can’t get energy from Point A to Point B.”
Heller said the state needs the transmission lines and less regulation and federal government involvement will speed up their construction