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Georgia bill aimed at requiring law enforcement to heed immigration requests heads to governor

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a bill that would require local jailers to check the immigration status of inmates and work with federal immigration officials instead of sheltering people who are in the country illegally.

The House voted 99-75 to accept changes to House Bill 1105, which was backed by Republicans and now goes to the governor for his signature. It previously passed the state Senate.

Under the measure, local law enforcement agencies would risk losing state funding for failing to work with immigration officials. Local officials could also face misdemeanor charges.

The measure gained traction after police accused a Venezuelan man of beating a nursing student to death on the University of Georgia campus.

Jose Ibarra was arrested last month on murder and assault charges in the death of 22-year-old Laken Riley. Immigration authorities say Ibarra, 26, unlawfully crossed into the United States in 2022. It is unclear whether he has applied for asylum.

Democrats raised concerns it would turn local law enforcement into immigration police, making communities less willing to report crime and work with them. They have also pointed to studies showing immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to commit crimes.

House Republican Jesse Petrea said on the floor Thursday that the bill was asking law enforcement only to work with immigration officials when someone has committed a crime and is in the country illegally.

"I don’t believe anyone in law enforcement believes that’s too much to ask,” he said.