Senate Republicans renew call for Democrats to consider Laken Riley Act after bill blocked again

FIRST ON FOX: Senate Republicans are renewing their calls for Democrats to bring forth consideration of the Laken Riley Act – a measure requiring federal immigration authorities to arrest and detain illegal immigrants charged with local theft or burglary – after it was blocked for a second time this week.

In a Thursday letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., 11 Senate Republicans, including all GOP members of the Judiciary Committee, urged immediate consideration of the bill and called for Durbin to schedule a mark-up of the bipartisan measure.

“As you are aware, during the Biden Administration and due to its policies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported over 7.8 million encounters with illegal aliens at the southern border. That staggering number of encounters is larger than the individual populations of 37 states and larger than the number of people who live in any city throughout the United States other than New York City,” the Republican senators, led by Sens. Katie Britt of Alabama and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, wrote in the letter.

The letter was sent after Britt and Graham requested unanimous consent to pass the measure earlier this week, when Durbin objected and blocked passage of the legislation for a second time in recent months.

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“The Laken Riley Act is the bipartisan border bill that should’ve been on the Senate floor this week. If this legislation had been the law of the land, Laken Riley would still be alive today,” Britt, a lead co-sponsor of the Senate measure and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, told Fox News Digital.

“The United States Senate has a responsibility to help prevent this kind of unimaginable tragedy from happening to more families across America,” she added. “It’s past time for Senate Democrats to stop blocking this commonsense measure and put the safety and wellbeing of Americans first.”

Applauding Britt’s “determination” and offering his support for the measure, Graham, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Fox, “In a blatant violation of the parole statute, the man accused of killing Ms. Riley was let into the U.S. by DHS due to a lack of detention space. Then he went on to commit multiple crimes before being indicted for murdering Ms. Riley.”

He added, “It would be shameful for Congress to have learned nothing and fail to take corrective action after this senseless murder. The least Democrats can do is allow committee consideration of the Laken Riley Act. We must change our laws so there are no more cases like Ms. Riley’s.”

The measure is named after 22-year-old Laken Riley, a college nursing student who was abducted and killed in February while jogging on the campus of the University of Georgia. Jose Antonio Ibarra, the illegal immigrant from Venezuela charged in the murder, was arrested in New York prior to the murder but was not detained by 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.

READ THE LETTER – APP USERS, CLICK HERE:

In the letter, the Republicans referred to Ibarra as “one of the millions of aliens who have been granted parole by CBP under the leadership of President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas, who have implemented an unprecedented increase in the abuse of the parole authority.”

“Under the Trump administration and the Obama administration, grants of parole by Customs and Border Protection at the southern border averaged around less than 6,000 a year. Under President Biden, grants of parole across the Department of Homeland Security have skyrocketed to over 1.3 million a year,” the Republicans noted.

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Pushing for consideration of the bill, the Republicans described Riley’s murder as “a senseless tragedy that was entirely preventable had the Biden Administration enforced federal immigration law as it should.”

The Laken Riley Act would require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest illegal immigrants who commit theft, burglary, larceny or shoplifting offenses and mandate that those who commit such crimes are detained until they are removed from the United States, so they cannot break the same law or commit further crimes.

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

“This bipartisan bill is a common-sense measure that would help to avoid future tragedies resulting from the failure to enforce and follow immigration law, and we look forward to the Judiciary Committee’s consideration of it,” the Senate Republicans told Durbin in the letter. “The Laken Riley Act is but one of numerous pieces of legislation that Senate Republicans have introduced to better protect the American people from the consequences of the ongoing crisis at the southern border and to stop — not merely manage — the flow of illegal aliens to the southern border and into the United States.”

“So far during this Congress, the Judiciary Committee has failed to take meaningful action on any of those bills. We hope that will change in the near future, and we request that you start with the Laken Riley Act,” they added.

The Senate measure has 47 co-sponsors – including Montana Democrat Sen. Jon Tester – and was introduced in the Senate by Britt and Sen. Ted Budd, R-N.C., in March to serve as the Senate companion to H.R. 7511, which was originally introduced in the House by Georgia GOP Rep. Mike Collins.

Collins’ measure was passed by a 251-170 vote by the House in March. All 170 no votes were Democrats. However, 37 Democrats joined Republicans to advance the bill.

Collins has 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.”

Collins, who represents Georgia’s 10th Congressional District of Athens, where the fatal attack happened Feb. 22, said the murder of Riley is a “wake-up call” for America and that the measure seeks to combat the “illegal crime wave” that he attributes to the ongoing border crisis.

In addition to Britt and Graham, the letter to Durbin was signed by GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Fox News Digital did not receive an immediate response from Durbin’s office on whether he plans to bring forth the bill for consideration in the Judiciary Committee.

Fox News’ Greg Norman and Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.

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