U.S. Sens. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) and Ted Budd (R-N.C.) on Wednesday introduced the Laken Riley Act, which is the Senate Companion to H.R. 7511, initially introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.).

The Laken Riley Act would require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest illegal aliens who commit theft, burglary, larceny, or shoplifting offenses and would mandate that these aliens are detained until they are removed from the United States so they cannot re-offend and commit further crimes.

Additionally, this legislation would ensure that states have standing to bring civil actions against federal officials who refuse to enforce immigration law or who violate the law.

The bill was sparked by the February brutal abduction and murder of Laken Riley, who was an undergraduate student at the Augusta University nursing school and a former student at the University of Georgia. The suspect in the case is a 26-year-old illegal immigrant, Jose Antonio Ibarra, from Venezuela, who police say abducted her while she was jogging on the UGA campus.

Britt said, “Make no mistake – Laken Riley’s heartbreaking murder was a direct, preventable consequence of willful open border policies by President Biden and his administration. This commonsense legislation would ensure ICE detains and deports criminal illegal aliens, so more innocent American families do not have to face this kind of unimaginable tragedy,”

“I am grateful for Representative Collins’ strong leadership and for Senator Budd’s partnership in introducing this Senate companion bill. Senator Schumer should bring this bill to the Senate floor immediately," she added.

Federal officials said Ibarra crossed into the United States illegally in September 2022 and was detained by the U.S. Border Patrol but released quickly with temporary permission to stay in the country. He was arrested again in New York City in August 2023 and released for driving a scooter without a license and with a child not wearing a helmet. His third arrest was in Georgia and connected to a shoplifting case. The Augusta-Clarke County Police made the arrest, but after running his name through state and national databases, they were forced to let him go on bond. According to local Georgia officials, this is now his fourth arrest, and he will remain behind bars.

Budd said, “States should be able to protect their citizens from the Biden administration’s lawless, open border policies by seeking relief in federal court. That’s why I am joining Senator Britt to introduce the Senate version of the Laken Riley Act. We simply cannot tolerate any more senseless tragedies like this one. What happened to Laken Riley should never happen to any American citizen.”

Last week, the Laken Riley Act passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 251-170. The Senate cosponsors are urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to immediately bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Collins, who sponsored the bill in the U.S. House, said, "The Laken Riley Act passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly and on a bipartisan basis."

"I am grateful to Senator Britt for taking the lead on getting this vital legislation through the Senate so we can put Laken Riley's name on Joe Biden's desk and take a step toward preventing this from happening to another American," he added.

The full text of the bill may be found here.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email Bradley.cox@1819news.com or on Twitter @BradleyCoxAL.

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