Laken Riley’s Father Speaks: ‘A Man With An Evil Heart Stole Her Life’

Laken Riley's Father Speaks: 'A Man With An Evil Heart Stole Her Life'

The Georgia Senate passed two bills aimed at illegal immigration this week, one day after the father of murder victim Laken Riley urged lawmakers to take a tougher stand on the issue.

The 22-year-old nursing student was killed on the University of Georgia campus in Athens last month. A 26-year-old Venezuelan man allegedly in the country illegally has been charged with the crime.

“A man with an evil heart stole her life,” Jason Riley said Wednesday as the family was honored in the Senate chamber. “My vision for every senator in this chamber is that you protect citizens from this illegal invasion … so we can prevent future families from these tragedies.”

The Senate responded on Thursday by passing legislation allowing citizens to file a lawsuit against any local government that is not complying with a state law prohibiting “sanctuary cities” in Georgia, policies some municipalities around the country have adopted declaring they will not prosecute suspects accused of being in the U.S. illegally. Cities or counties that don’t comply would face losing state funds and state-authorized federal funds.

A second bill senators also approved would require local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities by notifying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when they have a suspected illegal immigrant in custody.

The Senate’s Republican majority passed the first bill, House Bill 301, 33-18 along party lines. The second measure, House Bill 1105, passed 34-19 with only one Democrat voting “yes.”

Republicans said local governments are not above the law.

“If you go out there and want to be a sanctuary city and violate Georgia law, you are going to be held accountable,” said Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula.

Democrats accused Republicans of ignoring the thousands of law-abiding illegal immigrants who contribute to the economy by filling jobs and paying taxes.

“We are reacting to a horrible tragedy in Athens,” said Sen. Josh McLaurin, D-Sandy Springs. “We’re making bad law in response to that tragedy.”

Both bills now must return to the state House of Representatives to gain final passage.

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