Georgia Senate Republicans unveil new immigration enforcement efforts |  National

ATLANTA (AP) — Republicans in the Georgia state Senate on Wednesday amended a bill that would allow residents to sue local governments they believe are not following immigration laws.

The plan, unveiled during a Senate Public Safety Committee hearing, comes amid nationwide outrage following the killing of 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley in Athens last month. A Venezuelan citizen who authorities said was in the United States illegally has been charged with murder.

According to the amended bill, if local governments are found to be violating the “prohibition on immigration protections,” they would lose all state funding and all state-administered federal funding, except for emergency, disaster relief, and emergency medical care funds.

“This legislation provides citizens who feel that their communities are taking these actions that violate Georgia law when it comes to sanctuary cities the opportunity to take legal action against their community to get their community back on track bring,” said state Sen. Randy Robertson, a Republican from Cataula.

Georgia law already prevents cities and counties from adopting “sanctuary policies,” in which local officials grant safe haven to people living in the country without legal permission.

In some parts of the state, such as Athens-Clarke County, officials hold people with outstanding warrants in jail, but do not detain them, including immigrants in the country illegally, unless they have other charges against them.

Efforts to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities gained momentum among Republicans in Georgia after Riley's body was found in a wooded area on the University of Georgia campus after she went jogging. Last week, House Republicans passed House Bill 1105, which would require sheriffs to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to arrest and detain people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The suspect charged in Riley's death, Jose Antonio Ibarra, lives in Athens but is not a U.S. citizen. According to authorities, he entered the United States illegally in 2022 and was previously arrested in New York.

The new language was inserted into House Bill 301, which imposed penalties for passing school buses. Republican state Rep. Jason Ridley's amended version of the bill passed the Senate Public Safety Committee 4-1 on Wednesday.

If the bill passes the full Senate, it would go back to the House of Representatives, where members would have to vote to approve the amended bill.

Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman John Albers said a group of Republican senators had been “working non-stop on this important legislation,” meaning many committee members and members of the public did not have a chance to approve the new legislation until Wednesday's hearing Wording to check tomorrow.

“It's very frustrating and disappointing that I'm seeing this right now,” said state Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Pine Lake, who had questions about what kind of funding local governments would lose.

Robertson, who helped write the new language in HB 301, addressed her question, saying that money for infrastructure improvements or “funding for museums” could be restricted.

Critics who opposed Republican efforts to pass new immigration laws said those bills would place more burdens on local law enforcement agencies to take over federal immigration duties, rather than giving them more time to address other needs in their communities .


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