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UGA Murder Reactions Concerning to UNG Latino Students

Joshua L. Jones
After the murder of Laken Riley by an illegal immigrant, right-wing Georgia politicians have rallied to pass legislation to crack down on illegal immigration.

Latino UNG students have voiced their concerns on recent political reactions to the murder of a nursing student on the University of Georgia campus. Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan who entered the country unlawfully in 2022, was charged with kidnapping and murdering 22-year-old Laken Riley, a University of Augusta nursing student.

Republicans and Conservatives across the nation concluded that the murder was a result of illegal immigration. Former President Donald J. Trump labeled Ibarra as a “monster,” attributing responsibility to the Biden administration for a migrant influx that he characterized as detrimental to American citizens.

Governor Brian Kemp, having recently deployed additional Georgia National Guard troops to the southern border, similarly connected federal immigration policy to the violence at UGA, condemning the murder as both unjustifiable and preventable.

Abigail Cortave, a Guatemalan UNG student and Latino Student Association officer, agrees with Republican sentiments on illegal immigration but realizes there is potential for racism.

“It seems to me that a lot of Republican politicians don’t really hold a view of anti-illegal immigration. Most of them are just anti-immigration altogether.” – Abigail Cortave, Latino Student Association Officer

Cortave also noted a study revealing that unauthorized immigrants are half as likely to be arrested for violent crimes as U.S.-born citizens.

On Feb. 29, the Georgia House of Representatives voted 97-74 to approve House Bill 1105. Deemed the Georgia Criminal Alien Track and Report Act, the bill would permit police to arrest, with probable cause, anyone who is suspected of being in the country illegally and detain them for deportation.

Additionally, the legislation mandates that jailers and sheriffs notify federal authorities when individuals in their custody are discovered to lack legal documentation. Non-compliance may lead to local governments forfeiting state funding or federally administered state funding.

Fatima Santillan and Elias Quintero, two UNG students studying political science and biology respectively, questioned the integrity of the recent house bill.

“Racial profiling would be my main concern,” Santillan said in response to learning about the House bill. “I feel like there would be a lot more instances of police assuming you don’t have a green card and taking you under arrest because of it.”

Quintero agreed.

“I can only hope that the police, especially in an area like ours, will be fair and honest when it comes to determining who’s illegal and who’s not.” – Elias Quintero, UNG Gainesville Student

When asked to comment on the murder of Laken Riley, Clark Leonard, director of UNG’s Media Relations, spoke on behalf of the UNG Department of Public Safety, ensuring that the department continues to take a wide array of steps to ensure the safety of all students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus.

“In addition to the department’s highly trained officers, UNG offers Student Night Auxiliary Patrol, the LiveSafe app, UNG alerts and the most up-to-date technology to help keep our campus communities safe,” Leonard said. “We are grateful for the way everyone on our campuses works together to look out for each other and report suspicious activity.”

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Chaz Mullis
Chaz Mullis, Staff Editor
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