Emails Reveal Georgia Officials Scrambled To Defend Sanctuary Policies Following Laken Riley’s Murder

 An email exchange between the Athens, Georgia, mayor and the Athens-Clarke County sheriff shortly after the murder of Laken Riley showed the officials scrambling to defend the county’s policies on detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The email thread obtained through the Georgia Open Records Act and revealed by Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA) earlier this week shows Athens Democratic Mayor Kelly Girtz and Sheriff John Williams discussing the county’s policy that does not honor detainer requests from ICE. Riley, a 22-year-old Georgia nursing student, was allegedly murdered by an illegal immigrant while she was on a run near the university’s campus in February.

Two days after Riley’s brutal murder, Sheriff Williams reached out to the mayor, seeking clarification on whether the county “embraces being considered a sanctuary,” adding that he will “do everything in my power to protect the integrity and professionalism of the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and myself.”

Girtz defended the Sheriff’s Office policy to refuse to hold illegal immigrants upon request from ICE, saying that immigrants are less likely to commit crime than “the native-born population.”

“While the community is experiencing deep trauma right now, and emotions are understandably raw, I support the detainer policy as one that is both humane and following the well-documented propensity of immigrants in the U.S. to be less criminally inclined than the native-born population.”

Riley’s suspected murderer, 26-year-old Venezuelan Jose Ibarra, was reportedly let go after being detained at the southern border due to a lack of space at the detention center. He was then arrested in New York in August 2023 after he was caught driving an unregistered car with a 5-year-old inside. According to a police report, a few months later, Ibarra and his brother Diego allegedly stole food and clothing from a Walmart in Athens, Georgia. They were both given a citation for misdemeanor shoplifting and let go.

“My take-away for the moment is that in the immediate wake of a tragedy, to ‘focus on the victim…avoid political messaging…focus on comfort and unity (from the slideshow pp. 13-14),” the mayor added in his email. “I know how difficult this time is for everyone given the tragedy Athens has experienced, as well as the variety of things that land on our phones and computers.”

During a press conference after Riley’s murder, Girtz was shouted down by angry residents, who called him a “liar” and said he had “blood on [his] hands” when he argued that the jurisdiction doesn’t fit the state law’s definition of a “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants. The Center for Immigration Studies lists Clarke County on its map of states, cities, and counties that fit the definition of a sanctuary.


Rep. Collins called out the mayor for focusing more on PR instead of calling for immigration laws to be enforced.

“Instead of prioritizing solutions to prevent tragedies like this in the future, Mayor Girtz treats Laken Riley’s murder as a PR drill to be managed with ‘comfort and unity’ rather than enforcing the law,” Collins wrote.

The Republican congressman sponsored the “Laken Riley Act,” which would require federal officials to arrest illegal immigrants who have been charged with theft in the United States. The House passed the bill by a vote of 251-170 last month, and it now awaits action to be taken on it in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Emails Reveal Georgia Officials Scrambled To Defend Sanctuary Policies Following Laken Riley’s Murder Emails Reveal Georgia Officials Scrambled To Defend Sanctuary Policies Following Laken Riley’s Murder Reviewed by Your Destination on April 06, 2024 Rating: 5

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