Georgia passes law to tighten anti-sanctuary laws after Laken Riley murder

FAIR Take | April 2024

The Georgia Legislature took an important step toward improving public safety last week by passing the Georgia Criminal Alien Track and Report Act of 2024 (HB 1105) and forwarding it to Governor Brian Kemp. If enacted, HB 1105 will tighten Georgia's anti-sanctuary law and ensure that criminal aliens operating in Georgia's communities are not protected from immigration enforcement.

HB 1105 requires local law enforcement in Georgia to cooperate in enforcing federal immigration laws by executing arrest warrants. The bill also imposes penalties on sheriff's offices and jailers who refuse to participate in ICE's 287(g) program. Violations of HB 1105 will result in the loss of state and federal funding to the municipality.

There was drama in the Senate as debate on the bill came to a close. Laken Riley's parents entered the Senate floor for the final vote and her father, Jason Riley, took the podium to speak. Mr. Riley urged Senators to act. “God gave me a beautiful daughter to protect, provide for and raise. A man with an evil heart took her life. He was in this country and in this state illegally. My vision for every Senator in this room is that you protect the citizens from this illegal invasion.”

Although most Georgia lawmakers believed the bill was a sensible measure, some opposed it. Senator Nabilah Islam Parkes (D-Duluth) said the bill would negatively impact all immigrants. She said the bill was designed to punish victims of crime “whose only connection to the crime is that they[ing] The [same] immigration status of the perpetrator” and thus makes them “collateral damage” of immigration efforts.

However, Senator John Albers (R), the bill's sponsor, commented on the tragedy of Laken's death, saying, “This could have been prevented. I hope that laws like this and other things that happen will prevent future tragedies.”

Tragically, Laken Riley became collateral damage of the Biden administration's border-opening policies and Athens-Clarke County's asylum policies. And it was Laken's murder that drew Georgia lawmakers' attention to the dangerous impact that open borders and asylum policies have on public safety. Equally disturbing is the fact that Laken's death is not an isolated incident, but one of a few that have garnered national media attention. According to Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-166), a co-sponsor of HB 1105, nearly 200 convicted murderers are classified as illegal aliens in Georgia's prison system. “Today, there are 182, so I want to say that Laken Riley was not the first. It's a sensational event. It's horrific. Remember: every single violent crime committed against someone by someone who is in the country illegally was and is a preventable crime.”

While HB 1105 cannot undo the tragic loss of Laken and the other victims of illegal immigrant crime, it is an important measure to condemn the actions of her killer and protect the community from future acts of violence. This bill is expected to be signed by Governor Kemp. Regarding Laken's death, Governor Kemp said, “This is a failure of our system at multiple levels and multiple points in time, and it resulted in the death of a young woman. This is inexcusable.”