The Fulton County jail
The Fulton County jail in Georgia AFP

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed late Wednesday a law requiring, among other things, that all people taken to a jail in the state have their migratory status checked.

The measure had gained momentum after the killing in February of Laken Riley, a nursing student, at the hands of a suspected unauthorized immigrant from Venezuela. Most of its provisions will go into effect immediately.

Kemp said the bill "became one of our top priorities following the senseless death of Laken Riley at the hands of someone in this country illegally who had already been arrested even after crossing the border."

"If you enter our country illegally and proceed to commit further crime in our communities, we will not allow your crimes to go unanswered," Kemp added at the bill signing event. According to HB1105, sheriff's offices face losing state funding if they don't comply with the bill.

Jail officials are required to check with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the detained person's immigration status, also making it a misdemeanor to fail to do so "knowingly and willfully."

Advocates say the law will improve public safety, while detractors warn it could further erode trust between law enforcement and the state's large Latino community.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Reuters

"(They) are no longer to be calling when they are victims of a crime or see one," Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO, a Latino advocacy group in the state, told NBC News. He added that the organization documented racial profiling when sheriff's offices from two counties took part in a similar program.

When debating the bill, several Republicans said the case illustrates Democrats' failed policies regarding border security. Many similar bills have been introduced by the GOP at a state level over the past months, the most notable one being Texas' SB4, which allows state police to arrest and deport unauthorized immigrants in the state.

The implementation of Texas' law has been halted by a Court of Appeals, but others have already been passed and signed by state governors, the latest cases being those of Iowa and Oklahoma.

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