170 Dems vote against bill to require detention of illegal immigrant criminals

Just 37 House Democrats voted with 214 Republicans to pass the bill.

The United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (Shutterstock)

(Daily Caller News Foundation) — Over half the House Democratic Caucus voted against the Laken Riley Act Thursday, a bill named after a murdered nursing student that would force the detention of illegal migrants in the U.S. who commit certain crimes.

Riley allegedly was killed on Feb. 22 by Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan national who entered the United States unlawfully in 2022 and had been previously arrested in New York City, until he was released. In response, the House of Representatives passed a bill, named in Riley’s honor, that would require the detention of such individuals if they commit petty crimes of burglary, theft, larceny or shoplifting, which 170 House Democrats voted against.

“Laken was a kind and gentle soul beloved by everyone around her. May her memory be a blessing. Unfortunately, instead of coming together to express our sorrow for Laken’s tragic loss, the majority appears to be exploiting her death for yet another partisan political stunt,” said Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who led the debate on the bill in opposition, on the House floor shortly before the bill’s passage. “Republicans appear to have thrown together language from existing unrelated bills that target and scapegoat immigrants to score cheap political points in an election year while doing nothing to address the situation at the border. This approach is fundamentally unserious.”

Just 37 House Democrats voted with 214 Republicans to pass the bill, while 11 members did not vote. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia, who represents the district where the offense occurred.

Among those House Democrats who voted in favor of the bill were the party’s candidates running for the Senate in 2024 in competitive races: Reps. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Colin Allred of Texas and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan. Several swing district Democrats also voted in favor, such as Reps. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, Angie Craig of Minnesota, Mary Peltola of Alaska and newly re-elected Rep. Tom Suozzi of New York, who won a special election on Feb. 13 to the seat previously held by George Santos.

Apart from requiring the detention of individuals, the bill would grant states the right to sue the federal government for the non-enforcement of several immigration laws, such as the inspection of foreign nationals entering the country, the apprehension of such individuals who commit aggravated felonies and the general grants of humanitarian parole to classes of foreign nationals seeking asylum, some of whom enter the country lawfully. The Biden administration has established several programs that permit humanitarian parole to nationals of certain countries facing internal crises, such as Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ukraine.

“Jose Ibarra, a 26-year-old citizen of Venezuela, was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Sept. 8, 2022, after unlawfully entering the United States near El Paso, Texas. He was paroled and released for further processing,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Lindsay Williams told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “On Aug. 31, 2023, Ibarra was arrested by the New York Police Department and charged with acting in a manner to injure a child less than 17 and a motor vehicle license violation. He was released by the NYPD before a detainer could be issued,” Williams added.

“Her murderer was arrested in New York City weeks before and was released. Why shouldn’t he have been deported at that moment, by committing a crime?” Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia told the DCNF.

It remains unclear whether the Democratic-led Senate will take up the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Arjun Singh