New bill could allow officers to arrest those suspected of violating immigration laws

ATLANTA — A bill that allows officers patrolling in Georgia to arrest anyone they suspect of violating immigration laws could head to the governor’s office as soon as this week.

This comes after the murder of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student attacked and killed while jogging on the University of Georgia’s campus on Feb. 22.

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The next day, police arrested Jose Ibarra of Venezuela.

Since then, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as local police agencies, have confirmed how Ibarra made it past layers of law enforcement without facing deportation.

Now, the sponsor of Georgia House Bill 1105, Rep. Jesse Petrea, said he is aiming to address that.

The bill would do more than allow officers to arrest those suspected of being in the country illegally. It would also require jailers to honor U.S. and Customs Enforcement detainer requests.

Detainer documents ask local jails to hold inmates for 48 hours to give ICE agents time to show up to the jail and take custody of them. That removes the need for agents to search for them after they post bail.

“If I send my officers to arrest somebody in a jail, it’s a secure environment,” said Sean Ervin. “There’s no danger to the community.”

Ervin is the Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations in Atlanta. He is in charge of deporting those who violate immigration policies set by each presidential administration.

He said right now, some counties in Georgia do not honor ICE detainer requests.

Ervin said in his exclusive interview with Channel 2 Action News that he prefers to stay out of state politics.

However, he said, “What would be really nice is if it wasn’t necessary to get laws to pass to get sheriffs to do their jobs.”

Immigration attorney Joshua McCall said the problem is that it can be considered Unconstitutional to hold anyone in jail after they’ve posted bond.

“This bill criminalizes and fines local jails and local police departments for not performing the duties of ICE,” argued McCall. “This bill forces local police departments to do more reporting and statistical studies than is currently being done by ICE.”

McCall argued the section of the bill allowing patrol officers to arrest anyone suspected of violating immigration laws could leave innocent immigrants stuck in an overloaded system.

McCall is also concerned with parts of the bill that would require jailers to verify if an inmate is violating immigration laws and report it to ICE.

The jail would have to collect and report immigrant inmate data online every quarter.


He said, “It is possible for jailers/ sheriffs to face misdemeanor charges if they refuse to obey the law. It is the current law and has been since 2006. They can also face loss of state funds,” said Rep. Jesse Petrea, who sponsored the bill.

Rep. Petrea’s full statement reads:

“The bill simply ensures that when individuals in GA jails are discovered to be illegally in the country, that they are reported to federal immigration authorities. It further ensures that IF an ICE detainer is placed on an individual that it is honored by LE. ICE detainers are 48 hour holds with probable cause. This bill is ONLY about illegal aliens in jails who have committed crimes. In spite of intentional misinformation, It is not about immigrants or even illegal aliens in the community who have not committed crimes.”

This week, the Senate floor could pass the bill.

Then, it would head to the governor’s desk. It would become law upon signature.

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