Georgia House Approves Bill Requiring Police Assistance In Arresting Immigrants Following Student’s Murder

Aiexpress – Georgia House Republicans are supporting a bill that mandates all eligible police and sheriff’s departments to assist in identifying undocumented immigrants, apprehending them, and detaining them for deportation.

The House has passed House Bill 1105 with a vote of 97-74 on Thursday. This comes after a Venezuelan man was accused by the police of beating a nursing student to death on the University of Georgia campus. The bill will now be taken up for further debate in the state Senate.

Jose Ibarra, a 26-year-old Venezuelan citizen, was taken into custody on Friday for charges of murder and assault in connection with the tragic death of 22-year-old Laken Riley on Thursday. According to immigration authorities, Ibarra unlawfully entered the United States in 2022, and it remains unknown if he has sought asylum.

Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University’s Athens campus, tragically lost her life on February 22. Her roommate had reported her missing after she failed to return from a morning run in a nearby wooded area. Riley had originally begun her college journey at the Athens campus of the University of Georgia.

The bill also includes updated guidelines for jail officials to follow when verifying whether individuals are in the country illegally by contacting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Republican state Representative Jesse Petrea of Savannah emphasized the importance of this provision as it enforces the current state law, which mandates sheriffs to consult with ICE regarding individuals who do not seem to be American citizens.

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“Fixing policy in the face of unspeakable tragedy is not a matter of politics,” emphasized Rep. Houston Gaines, an Athens Republican. “It’s about taking the necessary steps to prevent such a devastating event from ever happening again.”

Sheriffs have refuted claims that they are neglecting the law by collaborating with ICE. According to the proposed bill, sheriffs who fail to verify immigration status would be charged with a misdemeanor. Additionally, jails and sheriffs who refuse to cooperate would be deprived of state funding.

Democrats raised concerns about the bill, expressing their fears that it would lead to prolonged detentions and the separation of parents from their U.S.-born children. They also highlighted the potential negative impact on immigrant communities, suggesting that it could erode trust in the police. Democrats argued that the bill was based on a false narrative that immigrants are responsible for higher crime rates, despite studies showing that immigrants are actually less likely to be arrested.

“We demand justice for the tragedy that occurred to Laken Riley. Our objective is to ensure that individuals, regardless of their legal status, who engage in acts of violence are not allowed to roam freely in our communities,” expressed Rep. Esther Panitch, a Sandy Springs Democrat. She added, “However, it is important to note that this bill alone will not achieve our goal of securing our borders, enhancing public safety, and protecting women.”

The proposed law in Georgia aims to align the state’s immigration policies with those of more assertive states like Texas. Starting in March, Texas will empower its police force to detain undocumented immigrants upon entry into the state and grant local judges the power to order their removal from the country.

Marin stated that he has observed a recurring pattern where ambitious representatives and senators employ fear tactics as a means to gain and hold onto electoral office.

Eligible cities and counties would need to apply for a 287(g) agreement in order to assist ICE with enforcing immigration law. The acceptance rate for these applications is uncertain, given that President Joe Biden’s administration has downplayed the significance of the program.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center identified six out of 159 Georgia counties that have 287(g) agreements with ICE in July. However, it is worth noting that five of these agreements are limited to jails. In Oconee County, which is located in the Athens suburb, warrants for immigration violations and deportation orders are served. Moreover, state agencies in Georgia also collaborate with ICE.

According to the center, at least three Georgia counties have ceased their jail-based cooperation with ICE. This includes Gwinnett County and Cobb County, two prominent suburban Atlanta counties where this issue played a significant role in recent campaigns.

House Democratic Whip Sam Park of Lawrenceville expressed his concern about the devastating impact of this program on families and children. He emphasized that it tore families apart, causing immense distress and hardship.

Petrea emphasized the importance of local assistance. He stated, “Refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities not only jeopardizes public safety but also undermines the integrity of our nation’s immigration laws.”

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