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Georgia lawmakers approve tougher immigration rules after student killing

Georgia lawmakers voted Thursday to tighten the state’s already strict immigration laws in response to the killing of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student. The country is illegally accused of murder.

In the final hours of the legislative session, the state’s House of Representatives gave final approval to a measure that would require local law enforcement agencies to scrutinize the immigration status of detainees and cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The result of this legislation is Republican lawmakers vow to crack down Riley’s body was found last month in a wooded area on the University of Georgia campus in Athens. Her death shocked the community that is home to the state’s flagship university, about 70 miles from Atlanta.

case Reverberations quickly reverberated beyond GeorgiaRepublicans believe her killing shows President Joe Biden is failing to adequately respond to the influx of migrants.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, condemned “the White House’s unwillingness to secure the southern border.” quoted during the State of the Union address President Biden responds to a question from Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“An innocent young woman was killed by an illegal immigrant,” Mr. Biden said, taking a page from his own script. The statement was met with fierce opposition from Liberal Democrats and immigration advocates, particularly his use of the word “illegal,” which they decried as “illegal immigration.” An inhumane derogatory term.

Supporters of stricter immigration laws are targeting the case because the accused killer, Jose Antonio Ibarra, was arrested by Border Patrol for illegally entering the United States in 2022.

He was released and given temporary permission to remain in the United States after parole, a practice the Biden administration halted last year. Ibarra was arrested by police in New York for driving a scooter without a license and with a child, officials said. He was not wearing a helmet. He was arrested again in October in connection with a shoplifting case in Georgia and was later released.

Lawyers representing Mr Ibarra in his murder case have called for a jury trial. He remains jailed without bail.

Federal legislation named for Ms Riley Passed by the U.S. House of Representatives This month, 37 Democrats joined Republicans in backing the measure that would force immigrants who enter the country without authorization and are accused of theft to be held in federal custody. The bill’s chances of advancing in the Senate are slim, and critics have blasted it. This legislation is a cowardly exploitation of a tragedy.

In Georgia, a bill before the governor would require local law enforcement officials to try to verify the immigration status of anyone in their custody who lacks documentation and to notify federal immigration officials when they detain non-legal residents. Law enforcement agencies are also required to regularly release data documenting the number of cases reported to federal authorities and the answers.

“I think this is really a common-sense measure,” said state Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens. “We’re talking about individuals who are in the country illegally and who have committed crimes and other criminal offenses. crimes and make sure these individuals are held accountable.”

The bill formalizes long-standing standard practice among many law enforcement agencies in the state and increases penalties for noncompliance, such as the loss of state and federal funds.

“This is an expansion of existing law,” said J. Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs Association. “It’s more binding.”

The bill has been criticized for being vague and placing an unfair burden on local officials, who could face lawsuits. The bill also raises concerns about increased racial and ethnic profiling by police.

Supporters of the measure argued that law enforcement officials failed to notify federal authorities, necessitating stricter requirements. “Every peace officer is required by law to report when he or she holds a foreign national in jail,” said state Rep. Jesse Petrea, the bill’s Republican sponsor. “Our concern is that not everyone is doing this.”

But Mr Norris disputes this. He said a county investigation showed that all 142 peace officers who run the jail said they had reported the information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

When the session ended just after midnight, lawmakers failed to advance another measure prompted by Riley’s death that would essentially have sued local governments on behalf of the public over policies that provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

The measure, which replaces an original bill that would have imposed penalties for stopping school buses, seeks to strengthen a long-standing state law that prohibits Georgia cities from becoming “sanctuary cities” that provide safe havens for immigrants who enter the United States illegally. Local governments may lose support from state governments. If a judge finds the policies do violate state law, federal funds will be needed.

Critics have criticized the legislation as an overreaction that exploits the pain caused by Ms Riley’s death. The legislation also interferes with the authority of local governments – stripping them of their ability to develop “their own approach to immigration that suits each community”. ” said state Sen. Josh McLaurin, a Democrat.

“I think reasonable people can disagree about how to enact immigration policy,” he said. “But most people really go too far on these bills, and they set the penalties and requirements so harshly that they basically deny the ability of local government to become its own independent government. “

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