Georgia House adopts bill requiring police to aid apprehend immigrants after student’s death

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

The state House of Representatives voted 97-74 on Thursday to pass House Bill 1105. The decision came after a Venezuelan man was accused of brutally beating a nursing student to death on the University of Georgia campus. Now, the bill will proceed to the state Senate for further discussion and deliberation.

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

Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University’s Athens campus, tragically lost her life on February 22. The incident occurred when her roommate alerted authorities after Riley failed to return from her morning run in a nearby wooded area. It is heart-wrenching to think that such a dedicated student met such a tragic fate.

The bill includes provisions that establish new guidelines for jail officials to verify the immigration status of individuals. Republican state Rep. Jesse Petrea of Savannah emphasized the importance of this clause in enforcing the current state law, which mandates that sheriffs consult with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding individuals who do not appear to be American citizens.

“Fixing policy in the face of unspeakable tragedy is not a political act,” expressed Rep. Houston Gaines, an Athens Republican. “It is an imperative action taken to ensure that a similar incident never repeats itself.”

Read More:  O.J. Simpson's Will Designates Son as Successor and Estate Executor, Promises No Payments to Goldmans

Sheriffs are adamant in their denial of any disregard for the law when it comes to checking with ICE. The proposed bill aims to hold sheriffs accountable by making those who fail to check immigration status guilty of a misdemeanor. Furthermore, the bill also includes provisions to deny state funding to jails and sheriffs that choose not to cooperate.

Democrats cautioned that the bill could result in prolonged detention of individuals, lead to the separation of parents from their U.S.-born children, and foster a sense of mistrust towards law enforcement within immigrant communities. They argued that the bill was based on a flawed assumption that immigrants are responsible for higher crime rates, despite studies indicating that immigrants are actually less likely to be arrested.

“We are seeking justice for the unfortunate incident that occurred to Laken Riley. Our main objective is to ensure that both legal and illegal individuals who possess violent tendencies are not allowed to roam freely on our streets,” expressed Rep. Esther Panitch, a Sandy Springs Democrat. “However, this proposed bill falls short in achieving that goal. It will not effectively secure our borders, enhance our safety, or provide additional protection for women.”

Georgia’s proposed law aims to align the state with others that have stricter immigration policies, taking inspiration from Texas. In Texas, police will soon have the power to apprehend undocumented migrants, while local judges can order them to leave the country.

Marin stated that she has observed a recurring pattern where ambitious representatives and senators utilize fear as a strategic approach to achieve and sustain their positions in electoral office.

Read More:  Controversial Comment by NBC Host on Donald Trump's Actions in the 2020 Election Provokes Outrage

Cities and counties that want to assist ICE would need to apply for a 287(g) agreement, which allows local officers to enforce immigration law. The acceptance rate for these applications is uncertain, as President Joe Biden’s administration has downplayed the significance of the program.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center found in their recent report that out of the 159 counties in Georgia, only six have 287(g) agreements with ICE. However, it is important to note that five of these agreements are limited to jails. One county, Oconee County, located in the Athens suburb, is responsible for executing warrants for immigration violations and deportation orders. Additionally, state agencies in Georgia also collaborate with ICE in their enforcement efforts.

According to the center, at least three Georgia counties have discontinued their jail-based cooperation with ICE. Among these counties are Gwinnett County and Cobb County, both of which are major suburban areas in Atlanta where this issue played a significant role during the campaign.

House Democratic Whip Sam Park of Lawrenceville expressed his strong opposition to the program, stating that it had devastating consequences for families and children.

Petrea emphasized the importance of local assistance. He expressed concern that refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities poses a threat to public safety and undermines the integrity of our nation’s immigration laws.

Read More:

Leave a Comment