Laken Riley’s Death Spurs New Georgia Immigration Law

Laken Riley's Death Spurs New Georgia Immigration Law

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a series of public safety bills Wednesday, including a controversial measure aimed at illegal immigration.

House Bill 1105, which the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed primarily along party lines, requires local sheriffs and the Georgia Department of Corrections to notify the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) when they have a suspected illegal immigrant in custody.

The bill gained momentum after Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student, was murdered on the University of Georgia campus in Athens. A 26-year-old Venezuelan man allegedly in the country illegally has been charged with the crime.

“The Biden administration has failed in its duty to secure our southern border, and as a result, we do not know who is entering our country or where they are going,” Kemp said during a bill-signing ceremony at the Georgia Public Training Safety Center in the city of Forsyth.

“In Georgia, we will do everything in our power to ensure criminals are not allowed to walk free and terrorize our communities.”

During the debate over the bill, legislative Democrats argued the bill would lead to racial profiling and divert local law enforcement agencies’ attention from going after all violent criminals, not just those in the country illegally.

Democrats also opposed Senate Bill 63, which adds a lengthy list of offenses that are ineligible for no-cash bail, ranging from murder and rape to such non-violent crimes as possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

The bill’s opponents said it will force suspects charged with minor crimes to remain in jail even if the offenses they have been accused of don’t carry a prison sentence if they’re convicted.

But Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who made the bill a priority, said banning no-cash bail will keep Georgians safe.

“We will not allow criminals to roam free in our streets,” he said.

Another bill backed by Jones that Kemp signed Thursday – Senate Bill 421 – increases penalties for “swatting” and drive-by shootings. Swatting became an issue during this year’s legislative session after a surge in false reports of criminal activity sent police to the homes or offices of targeted victims, wasting law enforcement resources and potentially threatening safety.

The governor also signed Senate Bill 159, which increases penalties for smuggling prohibited items including cellphones into prisons, and Senate Bill 10, which creates the crime of facilitating a drag race and stiffens penalties for operating a vehicle while drag racing.

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