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Nevada town's official-English law revoked

February 18, 2007|From the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Associated Press

PAHRUMP, NEV. — Town board members have struck down an ordinance that set restrictions on flying foreign flags, denied benefits to undocumented immigrants and declared English the official language of this growing desert town.

The measure, which briefly put Pahrump in the midst of the national immigration debate, was enacted in November but never enforced.

"I think it's clear that the main purpose and effect of this bill was to spread fear throughout the community, particularly the immigrant community of Pahrump," said Lee Rowland, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which called the measure unconstitutional.

Board member Laurayne Murray said last week that she hoped the ordinance's repeal would allow the community and the board to focus on more relevant matters.

"We have way more urgent business to address in this community," she said. "We are going to create our reputation in the world in a more positive way."

Murray is the only board member who voted on the ordinance and its repeal. The law's chief backer, retired government worker Michael Miraglia, and three other members have since left public office.

Miraglia said that he would continue to advocate similar immigration measures and that he hoped his English-language ordinance would become a statewide ballot measure.

"Somebody out there must be able to stand up for Americans," he said.

Hispanics in Politics President Fernando Romero said he thought the repeal indicated that most people in Pahrump, a town 60 miles west of Las Vegas, did not support measures that targeted immigrants.

"It's a few people who happen to get into a position where they can manipulate the situation," Romero said.

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