United States

“Laken Riley Act”: House Approves New Immigration Bill Ahead Of State Of The Union Address

This decision follows the killing of nursing student Laken Riley by an illegal immigrant.

AP
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, holds a poster with photos of murder victims Sarah Root and Laken Riley as she speaks on Capitol Hill. Photo: AP
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House lawmakers approved the Laken Riley Act on Thursday, a legislative initiative aimed at enhancing immigration enforcement measures for migrants charged with theft or burglary offenses. The bill secured a 251-170 vote in the lower chamber, receiving support from 37 Democrats alongside all Republicans, just hours before President Biden's State of the Union address.

Named after Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student from Georgia who was tragically murdered on February 22 by Jose Antonio Ibarra, an undocumented migrant with a history of encounters with law enforcement, the legislation seeks to address concerns regarding immigration policies and law enforcement protocols.

The Laken Riley Act includes provisions urging President Biden to reinstate the "Remain in Mexico" policy, requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to issue detainers and assume custody of migrants involved in theft-related crimes upon illegal entry into the United States. Furthermore, it empowers state attorneys general to file lawsuits against the Secretary of Homeland Security in cases where immigration actions, such as parole, adversely affect a state or its residents.

During the bill's debate, Representative Mike Collins (R-Ga.), its author, emphasized the necessity of preventing similar tragedies and restoring the rule of law amidst perceived lawlessness resulting from President Biden's border policies. "The Laken Riley Act is a key piece in our fight to restore the rule of law and get criminal illegal aliens off our streets," Collins remarked, advocating for justice for Riley and other victims affected by similar incidents.

The casket of Laken Riley, the 22-year-old nursing student who was killed last week on the University of Georgia campus, is brought to a hearse following her funeral at Woodstock City Church in Woodstock. Photo: AP
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Ibarra, the perpetrator in Riley's case, entered the U.S. illegally in 2022 and had multiple encounters with law enforcement before his arrest in connection with Riley's murder. Despite previous charges and interactions, he evaded deportation, highlighting perceived gaps in immigration enforcement procedures.

In response to the bill's passage, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) criticized Democratic lawmakers from Georgia for voting against the measure, accusing them of aligning with President Biden's immigration policies. Meanwhile, some Republicans called on President Biden to address Riley's murder during his State of the Union speech, underscoring the significance of border security and immigration reform as critical issues ahead of the upcoming elections.

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