Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signs immigration enforcement bill pushed after Laken Riley killing


Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed an immigration enforcement bill on Wednesday that was pushed after the death of nursing student Laken Riley.

Kemp said at the signing that the bill, which was sent to him in late March, had become “one of our top priorities” “after the senseless death of Laken Riley,” who was found dead on the University of Georgia campus in February.

After Jose Antonio Ibarra, an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela, was charged with Riley's murder, Republican lawmakers used the incident to call for stricter immigration policies.

“If you enter our country illegally and commit further crimes in our communities, we will not allow your crimes to go unpunished,” Kemp said at the signing.

HB 1105, signed into law Wednesday, requires local and state law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of anyone over the age of 18 who has been arrested, is in custody or who an “official has reasonable grounds to believe” has committed a crime.

Local law enforcement agencies that do not cooperate with immigration authorities could lose their state funding, and local officials who do not cooperate with immigration authorities face misdemeanor charges.

Supporters of the law call it a public safety law, and Republicans at the federal level have often linked crime and illegal immigrants – although studies have found no connection.

However, Latino organizations told CNN they fear this could lead to ethnic profiling and cases in which U.S. citizens are confused with undocumented immigrants based solely on their skin color or accent.

Pedro Marin, the longest-serving Latino representative in the Georgia House of Representatives, said during the debate that lawmakers are using “fear as a strategy.”

“But our community cannot and should not be collectively punished for the terrible actions of one individual,” he said in February.

Last month, Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Lee signed a similar bill that requires the state's law enforcement agencies to inform federal authorities about the immigration status of anyone in their custody and to cooperate in efforts to apprehend and deport illegal immigrants from the country.

Likewise, in March, Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed three new bills against illegal immigrants: they increase the maximum penalty for people who drive illegally without a license, increase penalties for crimes committed by people who return to the country after being deported, and stipulate that Florida will not recognize ID cards issued to illegal immigrants.