Killing spurs call for migrant crackdown

University of Georgia students gather to pay tribute to Laken Riley at the Tate Plaza on campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus, was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. Students also gathered to pay tribute to a UGA student who committed suicide last week. (Nell Carroll/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
University of Georgia students gather to pay tribute to Laken Riley at the Tate Plaza on campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus, was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. Students also gathered to pay tribute to a UGA student who committed suicide last week. (Nell Carroll/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

ATLANTA -- Georgia House Republicans are pushing to require every eligible police and sheriff's department to help identify undocumented immigrants, arrest them and detain them for deportation.

The proposal advanced through the state House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, going to the full House for more debate, after police accused a Venezuelan man of beating a nursing student to death on the University of Georgia campus.

Jose Ibarra was arrested Friday on murder and assault charges in the Thursday death of 22-year-old Laken Riley. Ibarra, 26, is a Venezuelan citizen who immigration authorities say unlawfully crossed into the United States in 2022. It's unclear whether he has applied for asylum.

Riley was a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus, after starting her college career at the much larger Athens campus of the University of Georgia. She was found dead Thursday after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the University of Georgia campus near its intramural fields.

Also Tuesday, the University of Georgia said it would spend $7.3 million to bolster campus security, and Republicans in the U.S. House demanded information about Ibarra from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The committee approved a quickly rewritten version of an earlier bill that would also set out new requirements for how sheriffs and jail officials should check with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine whether people are known to be in the country illegally. It sets out possibly contradictory rules about whether such people can be detained for more than 48 hours without a warrant.

"This issue right now is my community's most important issue, certainly, as faced unspeakable tragedy in Athens over the last several days," said Republican state Rep. Houston Gaines of Athens.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center, in a July document, counted six of 159 Georgia counties with 287(g) agreements with ICE. Five of those are only in jails, while Oconee County, an Athens suburb, serves warrants for immigration violations and deportation orders.

At least three Georgia counties dropped jail-based cooperation with ICE, according to the center, including two big suburban Atlanta counties where it was major campaign issue -- Gwinnett County and Cobb County.

Isabel Otero, policy director in Georgia for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the backers of the bill are "dead set on forcing localities to do immigration enforcement," even if local police and sheriff's departments don't have the capacity.

"Unfortunately, folks have capitalized on the death of a young woman for political points in a way that's really disheartening," Otero said.

Republican state Rep Jesse Petrea of Savannah said the bill is needed to enforce existing state law requiring sheriffs to check with ICE on the immigration status of people who don't appear to be American citizens.

Sheriffs dispute their jails are disregarding the law, said Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs' Association. He said even Athens-Clarke County, which Petrea and others have identified as a "sanctuary" jurisdiction for undocumented immigrants, is following the law.

Petrea's bill would state the sheriffs that don't check immigration status are guilty of violating their oath of office, a crime in Georgia. The bill would also seek to deny state funding to jails and sheriffs that don't cooperate.

  photo  A crowd of people gather to mourn the loss of Laken Riley during a vigil for the Augusta University College of Nursing student at the Tate Plaza on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus, was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. Students also gathered to pay tribute to a UGA student who committed suicide last week. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
 
 
  photo  Students gather at the Tate Plaza on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, to pay tribute to Laken Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus who was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. UGA students also gathered to pay tribute to a student who committed suicide last week. (Nell Carroll/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
 
 
  photo  FILE - This undated image provided by Augusta University shows Laken Hope Riley, a nursing student whose body was found Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., after not returning from a run. (Augusta University via AP, File)
 
 
  photo  People gather to mourn the loss of Laken Riley during a vigil for the Augusta University College of Nursing student at the Tate Plaza on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus, was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. Students also gathered to pay tribute to a UGA student who committed suicide last week. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
 
 
  photo  Augusta University College of Nursing students gather to mourn the loss of Laken Riley during a vigil for the nursing student at the Tate Plaza on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus, was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. Students also gathered to pay tribute to a UGA student who committed suicide last week. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
 
 
  photo  People gather to mourn the loss of Laken Riley during a vigil for the Augusta University College of Nursing student at the Tate Plaza on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus, was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. Students also gathered to pay tribute to a UGA student who committed suicide last week. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
 
 
  photo  People gather at the Tate Plaza on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, to pay tribute to Laken Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus who was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. Panhellenic President Dabney Duncan hugs Alpha Chi Omega President Chloe Mullis after she spoke about what Riley meant to the sorority. People also gathered to pay tribute to a UGA student who committed suicide last week. (Nell Carroll/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
 
 
  photo  Augusta University students, in blue, and University of Georgia students gather at the Tate Plaza on the UGA campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, to pay tribute to Laken Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus who was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. UGA students also gathered to pay tribute to a student who committed suicide last week. (Nell Carroll/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
 
 
  photo  People gather to mourn the loss of Laken Riley during a vigil for the Augusta University College of Nursing student at the Tate Plaza on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University's Athens campus, was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, after a roommate reported she didn't return from a morning run in a wooded area of the UGA campus near its intramural fields. Students also gathered to pay tribute to a UGA student who committed suicide last week. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
 
 

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