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House passes Laken Riley Act requiring ICE to detain migrants arrested for theft

The House of Representatives passed the Laken Riley Act on Thursday, a bill requiring federal immigration authorities to detain illegal immigrants charged with theft or burglary offenses. The 251-170 vote comes after a migrant accused of similar crimes was arrested for murdering 22-year-old college student Laken Riley.

The act is named after Riley, a nursing student killed on the University of Georgia campus. Jose Antonio Ibarra, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela charged with her murder, had previously been arrested in New York but not detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Laken Riley’s senseless murder by Ibarra, who had no business being in this country, was a wake-up call amidthe illegal alien crime wave from Biden’s open border policies,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga). After passage, Collins urged Senate action to “ensure justice for Laken.”

All attending Republicans voted yes, while 170 Democrats opposed it. However, 37 Democrats broke ranks to advance the bill aimed at empowering ICE to detain criminal undocumented immigrants before more serious crimes occur.

Democrats like Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) accused the GOP of demonizing immigrants and exploiting Riley’s death for political gain instead of substantively addressing border issues.

But Republicans argued the bill combats an “illegal crime wave” from the border crisis. In addition to mandating ICE detainers for theft/burglary charges against undocumented individuals, it allows states to sue the federal government over immigration actions harming them or their citizens.

While mourning Riley’s loss, Democrats argued Republicans rushed a partisan bill targeting immigrants rather than taking a “thoughtful” approach. But GOP supporters insisted communities are “less safe” due to the administration’s border stance.

After the vote, Speaker Mike Johnson criticized Democrats opposing the bill, saying “there will be more victims like Laken Riley” if they have their way on immigration enforcement.