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Georgia lawmaker introduces Laken Riley Act following her death

Georgia Republican Rep. Mike Collins introduced the bill, adding that Riley's family supports his efforts.
Georgia lawmaker introduces Laken Riley Act following her death
Posted at 8:17 PM, Mar 05, 2024

The brutal murder of a nursing student in Georgia less than two weeks ago is igniting a call for change. Today a Georgia Republican congressman presented the Laken Riley Act, a bill seeking stricter laws against migrants in the country illegally who face charges for theft. The move comes after a Venezuelan migrant was charged with the murder of 22-year-old Laken Riley.

Republicans accused the White House of immigration policies that allow dangerous criminals to enter the U.S. and roam the streets, pointing to the death of 22-year-old Laken Riley as an example. U.S. Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern struck back, accusing Republicans of using the murder to score political points and of campaigning on a terrible tragedy.     

If passed, the Laken Riley Act would require the secretary of homeland security to mobilize and take into custody people living illegally in the U.S. who commit or admit to theft, burglary or shoplifting. The law would also open up the federal government to lawsuits from states and residents if the government fails to enforce immigration laws.  

On Feb. 22, Laken Riley's body was found at the University of Georgia campus in a forested area. Authorities say the suspect, Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan immigrant, is facing several charges including felony murder. He was arrested back in October for stealing food and clothing from Walmart. 

Georgia Republican Rep. Mike Collins introduced the bill, adding that the family of Riley supports his efforts.

Scripps News' Adi Guajardo spoke with an immigration attorney who called the bill a knee-jerk reaction, adding that Ibarra has not been convicted of Riley's murder. 

"It is literally a representation of the Jim Crow past that we survived over 70 years ago and they've reanimated it into our public discourse today where even an accusation that leads to a person's arrest, could cause them to lose their, their liberty rights and their possible eligibility for relief in the future," said attorney Casey Antonio Williams.

The bill is expected to be voted on by the full House as early as Thursday. 

SEE MORE: Court documents show new details in killing of Georgia nursing student

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