Georgia House approves legislation that relaxes standards for detaining undocumented immigrants

The Georgia House approved a bill on Thursday that would allow the arrest of immigrants based on suspicion of residing in the state unlawfully.

Furthermore, under HB 1105, local authorities would be authorized to detain immigrants for deportation if they determine that they are not legal residents. Failure to report when a detainee lacks proper legal documentation could result in the withholding of state funding or state-administered federal funding for officers, jailers, or sheriffs, as stated in the bill. The legislation was crafted by six Republicans and passed with a vote of 97-74, with only one Democratic member supporting the measure.

The bill was passed in the wake of the tragic murder of University of Georgia student Laken Riley, whose body was found on campus on Feb. 22. José Ibarra, an illegal immigrant residing near campus, has been arrested in connection with her death. He is facing charges including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another. It is worth noting that Ibarra had been previously apprehended in the United States before the alleged crime, and despite authorities being aware of his illegal immigrant status, he was released back into the country instead of being deported.

State Representative Jesse Petrea, the Republican sponsor of the legislation, revealed that the bill had been in development for a year, but gained additional backing after the tragic murder incident.

Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) has not yet provided a response to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment on the bill. However, he has been vocal about the urgent need for change following the tragic murder.

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Athens, Georgia, became a sanctuary city in 2019, with the government passing a resolution that welcomed all immigrants, regardless of their legal status. However, the recent murder of Riley has raised questions about the true meaning of the term, even causing Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz to express some uncertainty.

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