OPINION: Sweeping Immigration reforms to the Peach State

Georgia House Immigration Bill seeks to allow commissioner of corrections officers access to immigration status
Graphic made in Canva.
Graphic made in Canva.
Yasemin Kalpakci

The Georgia House of Representatives passed the Alien Track and Report Act also known as the Laken Riley Act, a week after the events of Feb. 22, where nursing student Laken Riley was brutally murdered on the University of Georgia Athens campus by undocumented immigrant Jose Antorrio Ibarra.  Georgia House Bill 1105, also known as the Alien Track and Report Act, has been in the making for over a year, but took on a new urgency  after the death of Laken Riley. 

The homicide at UGA should have made national headlines raising some important questions regarding campus safety especially for women. Instead Laken Riley’s story was turned into a political scheme by republicans who argue that harsher security would eliminate crimes committed by illegal immigrants, including this event. 

We can all agree that people who commit crimes, especially violent crimes should face the repercussions associated with that crime. 

A non-citizen being legitimately arrested, should be the reason for them to be flagged for deportation. Especially knowing that prior to the brutal murder of the young student, Ibarra, was arrested by the New York Police Department and released back into the general population regardless of the fact that he was known to be an undocumented immigrant.

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“Immigrants are 30 percent less likely to be incarcerated than are U.S.-born individuals who are white”

— Stanford University Report

The Georgia Immigration bill however, is vague. The ambiguous nature of the bill could lead to illegal seizures and racial profiling in ways that could go against the constitutional rights that legal Americans citizens have.

The Bill clearly outlines that sheriffs and jailers must ask for documentation and arrest anyone suspected of being in the United States, and refusing to follow these new protocols would cause local governments to lose federal funding. The threat of losing funding will ultimately cause more vigilance concerning Immigrants by the police.

The bill is largely debated because programs such as ICE have been known to cause unnecessary injury to family units and legitimate people seeking asylum from their oppressive home countries. 

“There are so many people both in this body and outside of this body who would be suspected as foreign nationals and would be unfairly detained until it was proven they were citizens,” said Duluth Democrat Rep. Ruwa Romman. 

There are many questions as to what the Immigration bill could mean for immigrants, as it needs to receive edits of clarification with regulations on who may be stopped and how identification is obtained. Not only should the bill be sharpened by representatives before it reaches the Senate, but the public should also be better informed on whether or not the bill will only affect individuals in jail. These clarifications could alleviate the stress of immigrants and help the bill gain support by a larger number of people.

The bill as it stands needs work in order to truly serve the purpose it states to do, however turning the death of a poor girl into a political spectacle by blaming all illegal immigrants as dangerous should not sit right with individuals.

 It is important for individuals to recognize both the troubles that immigrants face to come to the United States and the tragedy of the Laken Riley killing, because without understanding the luck that U.S. Citizens carry just by living in America, it is easy to slip up and harm immigrants through passing laws that one does not understand the gravity of.

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