Bill Breakdown: Georgia's New Immigration Laws |  City News

Since the death of the 22-year-old Augusta University College of Nursing student Sheet Riley On the University of Georgia campus, all eyes were on Georgia as immigration policy changes took place.

New immigration laws should be passed at the state level. These would create stricter guidelines for the release of undocumented immigrants who enter through local systems such as law enforcement.

Federal law is still in an uphill battle amid polarization on Capitol Hill among elected officials. Still, House Republicans — with some bipartisan support in both the House and Senate — are working to crack down on immigration.

Many of these bills stem from the controversy surrounding the immigration status of the man charged in Riley's death. Jose Antonio Ibarra.

Since Ibarra is a Undocumented immigrants from VenezuelaMany have called for action on immigration reform. At the time of his arrest, Ibarra had already been arrested for other non-violent crimes. Under the Laken Riley Act, this could have resulted in his detention by ICE.

Federal level – slow process of changing immigration policy

Republicans in Congress are pushing for more action on the US southern border. This follows a record high of nearly 250,000 migrant encounters at the border in December 2023, it said Pew Research Center, leaving border states overwhelmed. After Riley's death – a tragedy that is close to the hearts of members of Georgia's Congress – they have become even louder for political change.

These sentiments are factored into the Senate and President Biden's agenda, as Biden proposed a bipartisan border reform bill that was rejected by Republicans in Congress.

However, many Republicans believe Biden doesn't need a border reform bill to do anything about the border.

House Resolution 7511 – Laken Riley Act

Status: Awaiting US Senate signature

U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, a Republican from Georgia's 10th District, has stood up to events involving his jurisdiction in Athens and pushed the Laken Riley Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This bill would require the arrest of all migrants accused of burglary or theft.

The House of Representatives passed the Laken Riley Act on Thursday, March 7, with all Republican members present and with bipartisan support from 37 Democrats who sponsored the bill.

The bill is now in the hands of the US Senate, waiting to be either passed or rejected.

Bipartisan Failure – Congress blocks President Biden’s immigration and border reform

Status: Rejected by the US Congress

There are divided opinions on Capitol Hill between the House of Representatives, the Senate and President Biden over how to handle the border crisis.

Although there are new waves with the Laken Riley Act, Congress experienced a shocking failure on President Biden's proposed bipartisan immigration and border reform bill. Senate Republicans blocked Biden's bill because its passage could undermine this lucrative campaign issue for Trump ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

The controversy continues as Republicans demand more action from Biden while Democrats consider proposed policies and the Republican Party's demands.

New draft laws in Georgia are waiting to take effect

The last day of Georgia's two-year legislative session was Thursday, March 28. This ended the process in which new bills were proposed, debated and circulated in the House and Senate.

During the first three months of the year, elected officials at the state level are involved in the legislative session. However, Georgia's General Assembly operates on a two-year cycle, meaning that “bills that are not passed or voted on in the first year could get a second chance next year,” they said Government of Georgia. If bills then fail the second year, they must be re-proposed to continue the legislative process.

Starting on this final day of legislation, bills approved for the next step will move to Gov. Brian Kemp's desk, where he will have 40 days to approve or veto the bills.

Since the immigration controversy in Athens, many Georgia lawmakers have been pushing for new and reformed immigration policies. Several bills have been proposed, passed and are waiting to be signed by the governor in the next two months.

Protesters hold signs in front of City Hall in Athens, Georgia, on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. There were two rallies at the mayor and commission meeting, but both addressed the controversy surrounding immigration and its handling at a local state and federal level. (Photo/Lizzie Rice)

House Bill 1105 – The Georgia Criminal Alien Track and Report Act of 2024

Status: Awaiting Kemp's signature

HB 1105 is considered a “comprehensive immigration bill,” said Georgia Rep. Houston Gaines, a Republican from Athens.

The bill is a public safety bill that addresses officials' reporting of immigration status. If passed, this bill would impose stricter penalties on Georgia sheriffs, correctional commissioners, and prison guards and require them to report certain information about the immigration status, criminal offenses, and home countries of individuals “under the authority” of the Department of Corrections.

This bill does not give the right to arrest or detain a person suspected of being an illegal migrant, but rather provides guidelines for people who have already been arrested or charged with other crimes and then after the Processing to identify them as illegal migrants, Gaines said.

This bill awaits its final step before becoming law. Kemp has until Tuesday, May 7 to sign, either pass or reject, this bill. If he does not sign for or against by that date, the bill will automatically become law.

House Bill 301 – An amendment to this bill would impose stricter penalties for implementing sanctuary policies

Status: Awaiting Kemp's signature

HB 301 “adds to existing laws prohibiting sanctuary cities in Georgia,” Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones said in a statement.

Although the parameters of Cities of refuge are unclear, the term is generally understood to refer to cities whose local laws tend to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation or prosecution, despite federal immigration law.

In 2009, Georgia banned shelter-in-place orders in cities. Later in 2016, the state required all local governments to demonstrate compliance with federal immigration rules in order to receive state funding.

This bill proposes greater transparency and cooperation with federal and state laws.

If a law enforcement official or person employed by the U.S. government to enforce or regulate federal immigration laws violates the sanctuary prohibition, they could lose their eligibility for certain state and federal resources and sovereign and federal immunities for local governments and their officials lift. This could also lead to the expulsion of local politicians or law enforcement officials.

This bill awaits its final step before becoming law. Kemp has until Tuesday, May 7 to sign, either pass or reject, this bill. If he does not sign for or against by that date, the bill will automatically become law.

Senate Bill 63 – Bonds and Acknowledgments; Determining bail bonds and bail schedules

Status: Awaiting Kemp's signature

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ibarra was arrested in September 2022 after illegally entering the U.S.-Mexico border CBS. Ibarra was then released by U.S. border officials pending review of his immigration case, CBS reported.

Accordingly ABC, Ibarra was arrested again a year later in New York and charged with injury to a child under 17 and a motor vehicle license violation. New York police released him “before an arrest warrant could be issued,” ABC reported. According to CBS, the NYPD claims to have no record of Ibarra being arrested.

For many Republican lawmakers in Georgia, Ibarra's arrests, which did not result in incarceration and allowed him to continue living in the country, are the reason for Senate Bill 63.

The purpose of this bill is to limit unsecured judicial release without the payment of bail, to limit bail funds collected for charitable purposes, and to limit the list of crimes that are available as an option for release without bail.

This bill could potentially limit the number of times people can pay bail – for example, community bail funds, churches and other groups that pool donations for bail. The bill also creates a new misdemeanor offense for anyone who posts bail in violation of the ban and narrows the list of offenses that can be released without bail.

This bill received local support from Senator Frank Ginn, a Republican from District 47, and was sponsored by Gaines.

This bill awaits its final step before becoming law. Kemp has until Tuesday, May 7, to either pass or reject this bill. If he does not sign for or against by that date, the bill will automatically become law.