Georgia approves initiative that requires police to help detain migrants

ATLANTA— The House of Representatives of Georgia on Thursday endorsed an initiative that would force all departments of police locals to help identify migrants without legal status in the country, arrest them and detain them for deportation.

The Lower House approved HB 1105 by a vote of 97-74 after police accused a Venezuelan man of beating a nursing student to death on the University of Georgia campus. The proposal now goes to the Senate for debate.

Jose Ibarra was arrested Friday on murder and assault charges in connection with the death of Laken Riley, 22, the day before. Ibarra, 26, is a Venezuelan citizen who, according to immigration authorities, entered the United States illegally in 2022. It is unknown if he had requested asylum.

Riley was a nursing student at Augusta University, Athens Campus, after beginning her college career at the University of Georgia’s Athens Campus. Her body was found on February 22 after her roommate reported that she had not returned after she went for a morning run in a wooded area.

The measure would also impose new requirements on how prison authorities must consult with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to determine if they are aware that someone is in the country illegally.

Republican state Rep. Jesse Petrea said that provision is necessary to enforce an existing state law that requires local police departments to consult ICE about people who do not appear to be U.S. citizens.

Local police chiefs deny they are ignoring the law. The bill would make sheriffs who fail to check immigration status guilty of a misdemeanor. The bill would also deny state funding to jails and sheriffs who do not cooperate.

FOUNTAIN: With information from AP