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Kemp signs bill into law forcing sheriffs to enforce federal immigration law

Credit: iStock

by Stanley Dunlap, Georgia Recorder
May 1, 2024

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law on Wednesday requiring law enforcement agencies in Georgia to notify federal authorities when undocumented immigrants are arrested.

HB 1105 creates a new immigration law that will result in local governments losing state funding and law enforcement officers and local officials being charged with a misdemeanor for ignoring the sanctuary laws. The catalyst for the new law came after the arrest of Venezuelan immigrant Jose Ibarra, who authorities say entered the country illegally, on charges that he murdered 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley, who was killed on Feb. 22 while jogging on a University of Georgia running trail.

The new law, which requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of detainees, was included in a package of criminal justice bills signed by Kemp at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Monroe County.

The Republican governor also signed a controversial law Wednesday that adds 30 more criminal charges requiring cash bail for release and creates new restrictions on charities that receive donations to bail people out of lockup.

Kemp said that HB 1105, which requires local and state police to identify, arrest, and detain undocumented persons, became a priority of Republican legislative leadership following the “senseless death” of Riley.

Failing to enforce the law could lead to state-administered federal aid  cuts from local government budgets, and local officials or employees violating the law could be convicted of misdemeanors.

“The Biden administration has failed in its duties to secure our southern border and as a result we do not know who has entered our country or where they are going,” Kemp said. “But in Georgia we will do everything in our power to ensure criminals are not allowed to walk free and terrorize communities.” Gov. Brian Kemp on May 1, 2024 signed a package of criminal justice bills during a ceremony at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth. Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

Republicans and Democrats were at odds in March near the end of the 2024 legislative session over immigration policy. Democratic legislators question the need to impose harsher penalties under a 2009 sanctuary law that already made it illegal for police and officials to withhold immigration status information from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Critics accuse Republican lawmakers of unfairly demonizing Georgia’s Hispanic population that contributes to the state’s economy while raising families and paying taxes.

A majority of HB 1105’s rules went into effect Wednesday with the governor’s signature. Several months from now, the Georgia Department of Corrections and local detention centers will be required to publish reports tracking undocumented immigrants.

Starting January 1, supervisors of county jails and municipal detention facilities must post quarterly reports accounting for incarcerated foreign-born inmates.

Additionally, HB 1105 requires the Georgia Department of Corrections to begin in October publishing reports on its website every 90 days an accounting of the immigration status, offenses, and home countries of inmates who are not U.S. citizens.

New law adds 18 misdemeanors requiring cash bail

Kemp also signed a new law on Wednesday that criminal justice reform advocates contend will result in more overcrowding in jails for people unable to afford bail and force many others to spend more time locked up before they can appear before a judge.

Under the law, a suspect is required to put up a specified amount of money or property as collateral if they are charged with a state crime punishable by jail or prison time. Supporters say the bill intends to curb the number of people who don’t show up to court and are more likely to reoffend after being released from jail on a signature bond.

The new law means that a cash bail will be required for 30 additional charges, including  18 misdemeanors such as theft by taking, criminal trespass and forgery.

In Georgia, a judge has the discretion to determine the amount of bail by taking into account an individual’s ability to pay.

The legislation has been criticized as a Republican-backed measure that runs counter to the strides made reforming Georgia’s criminal justice system under former GOP Gov. Nathan Deal.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia said the bill creates a two-tiered justice system based on wealth. “SB 63 is cruel, costly, and counterproductive,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Research shows that sweeping people into incarceration only increases crime and taxpayer costs, and yet Georgia locks up a higher percentage of its people than any other state in the country. SB 63 doubles down on that position, forcing even more people to languish in jail because they are poor or mentally ill.”

The bill also bans charities, corporations and individuals from donating to cash bail funds more than three times a year unless they register as a bail bond company.

Advocates for criminal justice reform say new restrictions on cash bail funds benefit a lucrative bail bond industry that keeps bail fees even after charges are dismissed or a person is cleared of guilt.

The Atlanta Police Department came under fire last summer after arresting several organizers with an Atlanta bail fund who used donations to bail out protesters fighting a planned Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. Atlanta Solidarity Fund organizers were arrested on money laundering and fraud charges, a move many criticized as payback for supporting the “Stop Cop City” movement that protests construction of the center.

The Bail Project said SB 63 would harm low-income Georgians in need by severely restricting charitable bail organizations.

“By limiting judicial discretion through requirements that cash bail be set for a variety of misdemeanors, and by restricting charitable bail organizations, churches, and individuals from supporting members of their community with bail assistance, SB 63 will fuel mass incarceration while removing a lifeline to impoverished Georgians who are incarcerated solely because they can’t pay bail,” the Bail Project statement said.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

This story is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.