Georgia legislature passes new immigration enforcement bill following Laken Riley’s killing

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The Georgia State Capitol on August 15, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. A Georgia grand jury handed up indictments against former President Donald Trump and his allies over his alleged efforts to undo the 2020 election results.


Georgia’s GOP-controlled legislature has advanced an immigration enforcement bill as Republican lawmakers nationwide continue to call for stricter policies in the wake of nursing student Laken Riley’s killing last month.

The state House gave final approval to HB 1105 in a 99-75 vote Thursday night, on the last day of Georgia’s legislative session, after the Senate passed the bill last week with a 34-19 vote. The legislation now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp who has previously expressed support for more stringent immigration policies. Kemp’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.

The passage of the legislation comes as the national debate around immigration has grown increasingly contentious. After Jose Antonio Ibarra, an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela, was charged with the murder of Riley, who was found dead on the University of Georgia’s campus, national Republicans have used the incident to call on the Biden administration to crack down on illegal crossings at the southern border.

Mike Stewart/AP

A supporter holds poster with a photo of Laken Riley before Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Rome Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

HB 1105 would require local and state law officials to verify the immigration status of those over the age of 18 who have been arrested, those in detention or those who an “officer has probable cause to believe” have committed a crime.

Under the measure, local law enforcement agencies who do not cooperate with immigration officials could lose state funding, and local officials who do not work with immigration authorities could face misdemeanor charges.

Republicans have argued that stricter border and immigration enforcement policies will protect Americans, often drawing ties between crime and undocumented immigrants — though research has found no connection.

“While Joe Biden and his liberal allies refuse to protect our citizens and secure the southern border, Georgia Senate Republicans are passing legislation to protect our state from criminal illegal immigrants,” Georgia Senate Republicans said in a post on X following the Senate vote last week.

Meanwhile, state Democrats have raised concerns that the bill is discriminatory and could harm immigrant communities.

“This bill will result in the racial profiling of our immigrant communities & does not make Georgians safer,” Democratic state Sen. Nabilah Islam Parkes said in a post on X, adding that the measure is “xenophobic.”

This measure expands upon previous efforts by the GOP-controlled legislature to tackle immigration. Last week, senators passed HB301, which sought to strip sanctuary cities and counties in the state of certain state and federal funding.

Other states have also moved to enact stringent immigration policies. A controversial Texas law would allow state and local police to arrest people they suspect of illegally crossing the southern border. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court said that the law would remain blocked while its proponents battle several legal challenges.

The US House earlier this month passed the Laken Riley Act, which requires the detention of any migrant who committed burglary or theft.

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