Georgia's bill to require law enforcement to consider immigration requests heads to the governor

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to a bill that would require local prison guards to check the immigration status of inmates and work with federal immigration officials instead of housing people who are in the country illegally.

The House voted 99-75 to approve changes to House Bill 1105, which was supported by Republicans and now goes to the governor for his signature. It was previously passed by the state Senate.

Under the measure, local law enforcement agencies would risk losing federal funding because they don't cooperate with immigration officials. Local officials could also be charged with misdemeanors.

The measure gained traction after police charged a Venezuelan man hitting a nursing student to death on the campus of the University of Georgia.

Jose Ibarra was arrested last month on murder and assault charges in connection with the death of 22-year-old Laken Riley. According to immigration authorities, Ibarra, 26, entered the United States illegally in 2022. It is unclear whether he has applied for asylum.

Democrats expressed concerns that it would transform local law enforcement into immigration police, making communities less willing to report and cooperate with crimes. They also pointed to studies showing that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

House Republican Jesse Petrea said on the floor Thursday that the bill would require law enforcement to cooperate with immigration officials only if someone has committed a crime and is in the country illegally.

“I don’t think anyone in law enforcement believes that’s too much to ask,” he said.