Georgia Governor Kemp signs law requiring prisons to check immigration status of inmates

Georgia's governor gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would require prison guards across the state to check the immigration status of inmates and cooperate with federal immigration authorities instead of harboring people who are in the U.S. illegally .

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, making most provisions effective immediately.

According to The Associated Press, Kemp also signed a separate law that would require cash bail for an additional 30 crimes, while prohibiting individuals and nonprofit bail funds from posting bail for more than three people per year unless they meet the requirements to become a bail bond company, according to The Associated Press. The bail law comes into force on July 1st.

The Republican governor said immigration law “has become one of our top priorities following the senseless death of Laken Riley at the hands of someone in this country who had already been arrested after crossing the border.”

Georgia immigration bill that would force law enforcement to cooperate with federal officials heads to administration. KEMP

A photo of the UGA crime scene among photos of Laken Riley and suspect Jose Ibarra

University of Georgia murder suspect Jose Ibarra lived just a five-minute walk from the approximate crime scene where he allegedly murdered 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley on Feb. 22.

Jose Ibarra was arrested in February on murder and assault charges in connection with the death of 22-year-old Laken Riley, a nursing student at the University of Georgia.

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Ibarra, 26, entered the United States illegally in 2022, immigration officials said. It is unclear whether the suspect has applied for asylum or not.

“If you enter our country illegally and commit additional crimes in our communities, we will not allow your crimes to go unanswered,” Kemp said.

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Georgia Governor Brian KempGeorgia Governor Brian Kemp

Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp speaks at an event hosted by radio host Erick Erickson in Atlanta, Georgia on August 18, 2023.

As the bill moved through the state Legislature, Democrats expressed concerns that it would turn law enforcement officers into immigration cops, making communities less willing to cooperate with police and report crimes.

Opponents also pointed to studies that suggest immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

Under the law, local governments will be denied state funding if they do not cooperate.

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Man holds prison barsMan holds prison bars

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that requires prison guards across the state to check the immigration status of inmates and cooperate with federal immigration authorities instead of housing people who are in the U.S. illegally.

Jails must also apply for an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow local prison guards to help enforce immigration law. Although local prison guards can assist with enforcement, they are unable to make immigration-related arrests outside of prisons.

As for cash bail changes, the Republican-backed bill requires criminals to be held on bail to keep them locked up.

The bill also hurts former Republican Gov. Nathan Deal's 2018 effort to allow judges to release most people accused of misdemeanors without bail.

Advocates said judges would still have the discretion to set exceptionally low bail. A separate part of the 2018 reform requiring judges to consider a person's ability to pay would remain law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original article source: Georgia Governor Kemp signs law requiring prisons to check immigration status of inmates