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Georgia Gov. Kemp signs law requiring jails to check immigration status of inmates


Georgia’s governor gave the final approval on Wednesday for a bill requiring jailers across the state to check the immigration status of inmates and work with federal immigration officials instead of sheltering people who are in the U.S. illegally.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, making most of the provisions effective immediately.

Kemp also signed a separate law requiring cash bail for an additional 30 crimes, while also restricting people and charitable bail funds from posting cash bonds for more than three people per year unless they meet requirements to become a bail company, according to The Associated Press. The bail law goes into effect on July 1.

The Republican governor said the immigration bill, “became one of our top priorities following the senseless death of Laken Riley at the hands of someone in this country illegally who had already been arrested even after crossing the border.”

GEORGIA IMMIGRATION BILL THAT WOULD COMPEL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO WORK WITH FEDERAL OFFICIALS GOES TO GOV. KEMP

A photo of the UGA crime scene below photos of Laken Riley and suspect Jose Ibarra

University of Georgia murder suspect Jose Ibarra lived within a five-minute walk of the approximate scene where he allegedly murdered 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley on Feb. 22. (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital/ Laken Riley/ Jose Ibarra)

Jose Ibarra was arrested in February on murder and assault charges in the death of 22-year-old Laken Riley, a nursing student at the University of Georgia.

Ibarra, 26, unlawfully crossed into the United States in 2022, immigration officials said. It is not clear whether the suspect applied for asylum or not.

“If you enter our country illegally and proceed to commit further crimes in our communities, we will not allow your crimes to go unanswered,” Kemp said.

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp

Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp speaks at an event hosted by radio host Erick Erickson in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 18, 2023. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

As the bill moved through the state legislature, Democrats expressed concerns it would turn law enforcement officials into immigration police, resulting in communities becoming less willing to work with police and report crime.

Opponents also pointed to studies suggesting immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to commit crimes.

Under the law, local governments will be denied state funding if they fail to cooperate.

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Man holding prison bars

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill requiring jailers across the state to check the immigration status of inmates and work with federal immigration officials instead of sheltering people who are in the U.S. illegally. (iStock)

Jails are also required to apply for an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow local jailers to help enforce immigration law. Even though local jailers can assist with enforcement, they are unable to make immigration-specific arrests outside of jails.

As for the changes to cash bail, the Republican-backed bill requires criminals to be held on bail to keep them locked up.

The bill also takes away from efforts championed by former Republican Gov. Nathan Deal in 2018, allowing judges to release most people accused of misdemeanors without bail.

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Supporters said judges would still have the discretion to set exceptionally low bails. A separate part of the 2018 reform requiring judges to consider someone’s ability to pay would still remain law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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