I-Team: Heller Talks Immigration, Gun Control - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Heller Talks Immigration, Gun Control

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U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

LAS VEGAS -- U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., visited Las Vegas with the added responsibility of the Senate's Veteran's Affairs Committee.

Heller also spoke about the latest immigration debate, gun control and veteran issues with the I-Team while in Las Vegas Friday.

After the Republican party failed to get Hispanic support on Election Day, Heller and other Republicans appear a lot more willing to discuss a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Heller expressed his support of a new immigration reform push from a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

On Friday he toured downtown Las Vegas' new Veterans Village, taking a break from a busy week in Washington, D.C., where immigration reform was topic No. 1.

Heller said he was pleased President Barack Obama visited Las Vegas Tuesday to outline his immigration reform plan.

On Monday, eight senators released their ideas to create a so-called pathway to citizenship.

When asked what it would take to get his support for an immigration reform bill, Heller said, "The key is, I think, in this particular plan, is to have border security. Border security before, or at least simultaneously, with any pathway to citizenship."

Heller won election against former Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley.

The congresswoman pointed out Heller's 2010 vote against the Dream Act, which would allow non-citizens who came to the United States as children to remain in the country.

Heller now says he supports the push to allow some non-citizens to remain in the country.

Opponents of the immigration plans pushed by the Senate group call it amnesty for illegal immigrants breaking the law.

Heller refused to call the plan amnesty, saying immigration reform was the humanitarian thing to do, but that he wants to see border security come before enacting a pathway to citizenship.

Senators are pushing for the idea of more unmanned aircraft to patrol the borders.

Heller met with Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie in Washington Thursday and said the sheriff is concerned about the amount of ammunition that can be loaded into extended magazine clips.

Heller said he will only accept a broad conversation about the causes of mass shootings.

"I think the discussion has to be more than just about guns," Heller said. "I think guns should be on the table, but I also think mental health has to be part of that equation. I think the movie industry, the violence that we're seeing on TV and the theaters and also the violence we see on video games, I think we aught to have a broad discussion. If it's limited only to gun control, than it's political."

Heller also expressed support for broader background checks, but said government should not limit private exchanges of firearms.

During Heller's tour of downtown's Veteran's Village facility, he was able to view some of the 120 rooms providing temporary housing for veterans and their families.

Heller said his new position on the Veteran's Affairs committee should bring more resources to Nevada.

"I had (Veteran's Affairs) Secretary (Eric) Shinseki … in my office just last week," Heller said. "The issue that I brought up was homeless veterans. The issues that we have here in southern Nevada to tackle those issues, to make sure it's at least on the radar screen back in Washington D.C. Now that I'm on Veteran's Affairs, I think we're going to have more opportunity to discuss this even deeper."

The Veteran's Village also provides medical and mental health services though private partnerships.

Heller said he plans to bring Las Vegas-based veterans experts to Washington to testify before Congress.

Starting Sunday after the Super Bowl, the 8 News Now I-Team's series "The Guns of Nevada" kicks off, which will show the impact of Nevada's gun culture and businesses all next week.

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