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

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Brian Kemp


Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, granted final approval to a bill mandating jailers statewide to verify the immigration status of inmates and collaborate with federal immigration authorities instead of harboring individuals residing illegally in the U.S.

Immediate effect


The bill was signed into law at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, with most of its provisions taking immediate effect.

Cash bail


Additionally, Kemp approved another law that enforces cash bail for an additional 30 offenses, while imposing restrictions on individuals and charitable bail funds from posting cash bonds for more than three individuals annually unless they meet specific criteria to operate as a bail company.

Immigration legislation


The GOP governor commented on the immigration legislation saying it “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.”

Murder and assault


In February, Jose Ibarra was taken into custody on charges of murder and assault related to the tragic death of 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley from the University of Georgia.



Immigration authorities disclosed that Ibarra, aged 26, entered the United States unlawfully in 2022. It remains uncertain whether the suspect sought 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. During the bill’s progression through the state legislature, Democrats raised concerns that it could transform law enforcement officials into immigration enforcers, leading to a decrease in community cooperation with the police and crime reporting.

Criminal activities


Opponents highlighted studies indicating that immigrants are less likely to engage in criminal activities compared to native-born Americans. The law stipulates that local governments risk losing state funding if they do not comply with the legislation.

Immigration laws


Additionally, jails must seek an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow local jail staff to assist in enforcing immigration laws.



However, these staff members are not authorized to make immigration-related arrests outside of jails. Regarding the changes to cash bail, the bill, supported by Republicans, mandates holding criminals on bail to ensure their detention.

Nathan Deal


The legislation also diverges from the 2018 initiatives led by former Republican Governor Nathan Deal, which permitted judges to release most misdemeanor suspects without bail. Supporters of the new bill argue that judges will still have the authority to set minimal bail amounts.

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