House Passes Laken Riley Act Requiring ICE to Detain Illegal Immigrants Arrested for Theft

Laken Riley (WSB-TV/Facebook)

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday in honor of Laken Riley, the Georgia nursing student who was slain last month by an illegal immigrant.

The bill would require federal immigration authorities to detain illegal immigrants charged with local theft or burglary and would also allow states to sue the federal government “if an immigration related action harms the state or its citizens.” 

The passage of the Laken Riley Act in a 251-170 vote comes weeks after Jose Antonio Ibarra, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela was charged in the 22-year-old’s murder on the University of Georgia campus.

Ibarra, who illegally entered the country in September 2022 and was released into the U.S. via parole, was arrested in New York City in September 2023 for acting in a manner to injure a child under 17, but he was released by local police before a detainer could be issued. One month later, he was cited in Georgia for misdemeanor shoplifting alongside his brother, Diego Ibarra, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

Republicans have decried the immigration policies that allowed Ibarra to be on the school’s campus that morning to carry out what police called a crime of opportunity as the pair did not appear to know each other.

Thirty-seven Democrats joined every Republican in attendance in voting in favor of the bill.

“The senseless murder of Laken Riley by Jose Ibarra, who had no business being in this country, was another wake-up call as Americans experience an illegal alien crime wave because of Joe Biden’s open border and local sanctuary city policies,” Representative Mike Collins (R., Ga.) told Fox News.

Collins, who introduced the bill and represents the district in which the crime occurred, called on the Senate to quickly consider the legislation to “ensure justice for Laken and give ICE more tools to detain and deport criminal illegal aliens before they commit more serious crimes.”

Collins also invited Riley’s parents to be his guests at President Biden’s State of the Union speech on Thursday, though he said the family declined as they are grieving the loss of their daughter.

“Therefore, the seat reserved for my guest will remain vacant to honor Laken and all American victims of illegal alien crime,” he said.

Meanwhile, many Democrats were critical of the bill, accusing Republicans of using Riley’s death for political points.

“Rather than approaching this tragic event in a thoughtful manner, Republicans appear to have just thrown together language from existing unrelated bills that target and scapegoat immigrants to score cheap political points in an election year while doing nothing to address the situation at the border,” Representative Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) said. “This approach is fundamentally unserious.” 

House speaker Mike Johnson blasted Democrats who voted against the bill.

“170 House Democrats just voted against the Laken Riley Act, refusing to require the detention and deportation of illegal immigrants who have been caught committing a crime,” he wrote on X. “Sadly, if these Democrats have their way, there will be more victims like Laken Riley.”

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