How Laken Riley’s killing is shaping the immigration debate on both sides of the aisle

ATLANTA — The suspect in the death of a nursing student in the University of Georgia campus is an undocumented immigrant and Georgia lawmakers are going back and forth in tense arguments over it.

Both the House and Senate held moments of silence Monday at the State Capitol to honor Laken Riley.

Gov. Brian Kemp is blaming the Biden administration for Riley’s death.

U. S. Sen. Jon Ossoff blamed former president Donald Trump for the failure of a bipartisan immigration bill.

A visibly angry Kemp was in Athens Monday to talk to the Chamber of Commerce, but his thoughts were on Riley’s murder.

Police charged Jose Ibarra in Riley’s killing.


Authorities say he was in the country illegally and was arrested twice, including by federal authorities, when he crossed the border. Each time, he was released.

Kemp blamed the Biden administration for Riley’s death.

“I mean, this is what we … feared would happen,” Kemp said. “We just have a nightmare in this country with mass migration, and then have people who are here illegally breaking our laws, and they’re not telling anyone and report it to us.”

Georgia Republicans are now pushing legislation that could charge local sheriffs if they fail to report illegal immigrants in their jails to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“It’s difficult to imagine the level of pain the family and community are experiencing right now,” U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff said Monday.

Ossoff was at the Capitol too and told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that he’s asked Homeland Security for all the records surrounding Ibarra’s prior encounters with immigration authorities.

He also said the Senate almost had a bipartisan agreement on border security, but blamed Trump for its failure.

“That’s why the former president’s decision to deliberately tank the bipartisan security legislation that was proceeding through the Senate was so destructive, in my view, to our national security,” Ossoff said.

The immigration-related bills could get voted out of committee on Tuesday and be up for a vote in the House later this week.