Georgia Senate passes immigration bill

ATLANTAGeorgia lawmakers have passed a controversial immigration bill that would penalize local sheriffs who don't cooperate with federal immigration officials.

State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, said House Bill 1105 is a public safety bill that specifically addresses criminals.

He insists the bill was years in the making and was not a knee-jerk reaction to the murder of nursing student Laken Riley, who was killed while jogging on the UGA campus in February.

Police said the man charged in her death was in the country illegally.

“Her family is devastated,” Senator Albers told reporters. “This could have been prevented. I hope laws like this and other things that are happening will prevent future tragedies.”

Laken's family appeared in the Senate chamber on Wednesday. Her father called on lawmakers to take action.

“God has given me a beautiful daughter to father, protect, provide for and nurture,” Jason Moore told lawmakers. “A man with an evil heart stole her life. He was in this country and state illegally. My vision for every senator in this chamber is that you protect citizens from this illegal invasion.”

HB1105 would require local law enforcement to assist federal agents in enforcing immigration laws and impose penalties on sheriffs and prison guards who do not contact federal officials to verify the immigration status of prisoners.

Opposition to Georgia's immigration law

Democrats who oppose the bill insist the law wages war on immigrants, creates unintended consequences and is difficult to enforce.

“Is it fair to punish thousands of men, women and children whose only connection to the crime is sharing the perpetrator's immigration status?” Sen. Nabilah Islam Parkes, D-Duluth, asked colleagues. “HB 1105 may bring comfort to some in this room, but for many of us who are immigrants or children of immigrant parents, this bill portrays us as collateral damage.”

The measure passed on a bipartisan basis. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. If the House passes the measure, it will be sent to the governor's desk for his signature.