Georgia Legislature Passes New Immigration Enforcement Bill Following Laken Riley’s Killing


In response to the tragic killing of nursing student Laken Riley, the GOP-controlled legislature in Georgia has pushed through a new immigration enforcement bill, reflecting a broader trend among Republican lawmakers advocating for stricter policies. The bill, known as HB 1105, received final approval in the state House with a 99-75 vote, following a 34-19 vote in the Senate the previous week. The legislation now awaits the signature of Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who has indicated previous support for tougher immigration measures.

Tension in Georgia

The passage of HB 1105 comes amidst a national discourse marked by heightened tensions surrounding immigration. Following the arrest of Jose Antonio Ibarra, an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela, for Riley’s murder on the University of Georgia campus, Republicans nationally have seized upon the incident to urge the Biden administration to take a harder stance on illegal border crossings.

Immigration enforcement would be bolstered by HB 1105, which mandates that local and state law enforcement verify the immigration status of individuals over 18 who are arrested, in detention, or suspected of committing a crime. Failure to cooperate with immigration officials could lead to loss of state funding for local law enforcement agencies and misdemeanor charges for officials who refuse to collaborate.

While proponents argue that such measures will enhance public safety, critics, including state Democrats, have voiced concerns about potential discrimination and harm to immigrant communities. Despite the lack of empirical evidence linking crime to undocumented immigrants, Republicans have persisted in their calls for stricter border control.

The passage of HB 1105 builds upon previous efforts by the GOP-led legislature to address immigration issues. Earlier, the Senate passed HB301, aimed at withholding funding from sanctuary cities and counties in Georgia. Similar moves have been witnessed in other states, with Texas introducing a contentious law empowering police to arrest suspected illegal border crossers, albeit facing legal challenges. At the federal level, the House recently approved the Laken Riley Act, mandating the detention of migrants involved in burglary or theft.