Following the brutal murder of Laken Riley, Georgia lawmakers are cracking down on the immigration status of arrested migrants

US News

March 31, 2024, 5:45 p.m. ET

Following the brutal death of nursing student Laken Riley – allegedly at the hands of a Venezuelan immigrant – Georgia state lawmakers have passed a tougher immigration enforcement law.

The bill now only needs to be approved by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, CNN reported.

“While Joe Biden and his liberal allies refuse to protect our citizens and secure our southern border, Republicans in the Georgia Senate are passing legislation to protect our state from criminal illegal immigrants,” Republican senators from the Peach State wrote on X.

“Let’s be clear that sanctuary cities will not be tolerated in Georgia,” the post said.

The state's move on Thursday follows a vote by the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives on March 7 approving the federal Laken Riley law – which has since stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Georgia nursing student Laken Riley, 22, was brutally beaten to death on February 22 during a morning run. Facebook / Sheet Riley

The federal measure would require immigration authorities to arrest migrants who enter the country illegally and hold them for deportation if they commit crimes.

It would also force asylum seekers to wait for immigration hearings on the Mexican side of the U.S. southern border, rather than within the country, where thousands have flocked to “asylum cities” like New York.

The Georgia bill, which is expected to receive Kemp's support, would require state and local law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of migrants over the age of 18 who are arrested, held behind bars or when “there is probable cause to believe” that this is the case a crime has been committed.

Both laws were enacted in the wake of Riley's brutal murder on the University of Georgia campus.

The 22-year-old nursing student was out and about on February 22 when she was attacked and brutally beaten, according to police. Her body was left on a trail in a wooded part of campus.

Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, who immigration officials said entered the country illegally, was later arrested in the gruesome attack and faces murder charges in the case.

Ibarra entered the country in September 2022 in El Paso, Texas, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said, and later lived briefly in New York City before moving to Georgia to be with his brother.

Jose Antonio Ibarra, a 26-year-old Venezuelan immigrant, is charged with the Feb. 22 murder of nursing student Laken Riley on the University of Georgia campus. Jose Ibarra / Tiktok

Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp may sign a bill tightening immigration rules after lawmakers approved the measure this month. AP

Riley studied at the University of Georgia before transferring to nearby Augusta University.

The state bill was introduced following the high-profile case.

After passing the state Senate by a vote of 34-19 earlier this month, the House passed the measure by a vote of 99-75 on Thursday and sent it to the governor.

Georgia lawmakers' vote to strengthen immigration enforcement follows a vote this month by the Republican-led House of Representatives to pass the Laken Riley Act following the killing of a 22-year-old nursing student. James Keivom

A Democrat in the state Senate who voted against the measure called it “a xenophobic bill.”

“This bill racially profiles our immigrant communities and does not make Georgians safer,” Sen. Nabilah Islam Parkes wrote on X. “I will always fight to protect our immigrant communities.”


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