Warnock dismisses Laken Riley Act as ‘smoke and mirrors’

Warnock dismisses Laken Riley Act as ‘smoke and mirrors’

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) dismissed the GOP-led Laken Riley Act as “smoke and mirrors” Tuesday, saying the immigration legislation was put forward by lawmakers “who are not serious.”

House Republicans led the lower chamber in passing the Laken Riley Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to take those living in the U.S. illegally into custody if they have been charged with theft-related crimes. Warnock pushed back on the legislation on MSNBC’s “The Reid Out,” noting that Congress already has a bipartisan deal on border related issues.

“Let me, first of all, just say that my heart goes out to this young woman’s family. Laken Riley did not deserve what happened to her,” he said.

“To answer your question succinctly, this is smoke and mirrors by people who are not serious. We had a bipartisan piece of legislation in front of us. It had a lot of provisions, some provisions that some folks on my side didn’t like. But the only way to get comprehensive immigration reform, the only way to address the current crisis on the border in divided government, is on a bipartisan basis,” he added.

Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student, was found dead last month after her roommate reported that she hadn’t returned from a morning run on the University of Georgia (UGA) campus. Police have said she was killed by a Venezuelan migrant who entered the country illegally in 2022.

Since then, Republicans have used her death to bring attention to the situation at the southern border. Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.), sponsor of the Laken Riley Act, held a seat vacant for her at President Biden’s State of the Union address last week.

Warnock previously knocked Republicans for trying to “score cheap political” points in connection to Riley’s death after her name was invoked during the State of the Union address. He said in his interview with host Joy Reid that lawmakers should “get serious” about the border.

“And so, rather than demagoguing this tragic death by this young woman, they ought to get serious. And let’s pass some bipartisan legislation and deal with the crisis at the border,” he said.

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