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Speaker Johnson issues grim warning after 170 Democrats oppose Laken Riley Act: 'There will be more victims'
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Speaker Johnson issues grim warning after 170 Democrats oppose Laken Riley Act: 'There will be more victims'

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is warning that more innocent Americans may become victims of violent crime at the hands of illegal immigrants if "Democrats have their way."

Before President Joe Biden delivered the State of the Union address Thursday night, the House passed the Laken Riley Act. The final vote was 251-170. Every Republican voted for it, and 37 Democrats joined them.

The bill requires federal authorities to detain illegal immigrants arrested for or charged with "any burglary, theft, larceny, or shoplifting offense." If the federal government doesn't comply with the detention requirements, the bill empowers states to sue the federal government. Importantly, the legislation also condemns Biden's "open-borders policies" and places responsibility for Riley's death at the president's feet because of his policies.

It's not clear whether such a law would have prevented Riley's death, but the Venezuelan immigrant charged for murdering her, Jose Ibarra, was arrested for shoplifting last year.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

In October 2023, Ibarra, 26, and his brother Diego Jose Ibarra, 29, were issued citations after being accused of shoplifting and given information about a pre-arrest diversion program, according to an Athens-Clarke County Police report. Local authorities allege about $200 worth of clothing and food was stolen from a Walmart, records show. A bench warrant was issued for Jose Antonio Ibarra’s arrest on Dec. 20 after he failed to appear in court on that case, records show.

After the vote, Johnson stated that "170 House Democrats just voted against the Laken Riley Act, refusing to require the detention and deportation of illegal immigrants who have been caught committing a crime."

Johnson also warned, "Sadly, if these Democrats have their way, there will be more victims like Laken Riley."

It's not yet clear whether the Laken Riley Act will become law. Democrats control the Senate, and, of course, it would also require Biden's signature.

But it's unlikely that Democrats will refuse to pass a clearly bipartisan bill. It's also not politically expedient for Biden to veto the bill, though the White House will probably take issue with the bill's language blaming Biden's policies for Riley's death.

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