More than 25 state attorneys general urge Senate to pass Laken Riley Act

FIRST ON FOX: Twenty-six attorneys general across the U.S. penned a letter to Senate leadership on Wednesday urging the passage of H.R. 7511, or the Laken Riley Act, which would detain illegal immigrants for some criminal offenses until they can be deported.

Led by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, the lawmakers wrote to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., saying the bill needs “immediate attention.”

President Biden’s repeated actions of ignoring the rule of law and abandoning successful policies have created a border crisis of historic proportions,” the letter states. “As attorneys general, we are fighting to preserve the rule of law and keep our states safe when the federal government fails to act or, in the case of illegal immigration, actively makes it worse. To that end, we applaud the bill’s enforcement provision for State Attorneys General.”


Laken Riley posted held by Trump rally attendee

Laken Riley’s killing has gripped the nation as the border crisis continues. (Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, the entire country has seen the news of the tragic and avoidable murder of Laken Riley. In broad daylight, Jose Ibarra is alleged to have brutally attacked and killed Riley while she was on a morning run. Reports show Riley’s skull was beaten so violently with an unidentified object that her skull was disfigured,” the attorneys general wrote.

“Riley’s death could have been prevented on multiple fronts, but the system failed her,” the prosecutors wrote, adding that H.R. 7511 is “a strong bill that can act as another arrow in the quiver when it comes to combatting illegal immigration and protecting Americans.”

In addition to Florida and South Carolina, attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Utah and West Virginia all signed the letter.

The House of Representatives last week passed the Laken Riley Act, which would require federal immigration authorities to detain illegal immigrants charged with local theft or burglary, after Ibarra, who was accused of similar offenses, was arrested for Riley’s murder. 


Jacumba migrants wait in remote area of California

A group of migrants wait to be processed in Jacumba, California. (Fox News)

The act, which was passed by a 251-170 vote, is named after 22-year-old Laken Riley, a college nursing student who was recently killed on the campus of the University of Georgia.  

Jose Antonio Ibarra, the illegal immigrant from Venezuela charged with the brutal murder, was arrested in New York prior to the murder, but was not detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Before being charged with felony murder, Ibarra was once arrested in New York for endangering a child, and he was cited in Georgia for misdemeanor shoplifting in October 2023 along with his brother, Diego Ibarra, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After the bill’s passage in the House, the author of the bill, Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., urged the Senate to take up the legislation immediately to “ensure justice for Laken and give ICE more tools to detain and deport criminal illegal aliens before they commit more serious crimes.”


Funeral for Laken Riley in Woodstock Georgia

A red, black and white bow is among scores of memorials attached to trees, Feb. 29, 2024, in preparation for the funeral at Woodstock City Church for nursing student Laken Riley. (Robin Rayne for Fox News Digtial)


In addition to requiring ICE to issue a detainer for illegal aliens charged with theft or burglary, the bill will also allow individual states to take action against the federal government “if an immigration related action harms the state or its citizens.” 

On Wednesday, two Senate Republicans introduced the Senate version of the bill as a companion to H.R. 7511.

Fox News’ Kyle Morris, Greg Norman, Aubrie Spady, Thomas Phippen, and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.