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Georgia Republicans are pushing a bill that would require state police to detain and deport all undocumented migrants, as anti-immigration rhetoric escalates in some sectors of society following the killing of a nursing student suspectedly at the hands of a Venezuelan who crossed the border unlawfully in 2022.

The Associated Press reported that Republicans in the state's House are seeking to advance a bill where all eligible police and sheriff's department would be tasked with identifying undocumented migrants and detaining them for deportation. It would also set new requirements for how jail officials should check with ICE to determine detained people's migratory status.

"This issue right now is my community's most important issue, certainly, as we faced unspeakable tragedy in Athens over the last several days," said Republican state Rep. Houston Gaines of Athens.

The proposal has made it through the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, and is now going to the full House for further debate. It gained momentum following the death of Laken Riley, which exacerbated the role immigration has in the public conversation and as a campaign issue as the presidential elections get closer by the day.

Several Republicans said the case illustrates Democrats' failed policies regarding border security. "Crooked Joe Biden's Border INVASION is destroying our country and killing our citizens! The horrible murder of 22-year-old Laken Riley at the University of Georgia should have NEVER happened!" wrote Trump in his social media site, Truth Social.

A memorial service at the University of Georgia University of Georgia

Latino organizations and students at the University of Georgia, in turn, have pleaded against anti Hispanic and anti immigrant rhetoric. According to NBC News, the Latino Community Fund Georgia said that it has been "monitoring instances of folks that have been saying that they want to go 'hunting for immigrants.'"

The organization's executive director, Gilda Pedraza, told the outlet that the amount of violent posts and their incendiary rhetoric pose a "real-life threat" which has led some of her group's members to remove their contact information from their websites.

The organization posted a statement over the weekend calling for a "a full investigation that will bring justice to her family and the community in Athens," but also warning that nationality or immigration status "should not be used to make generalizations, assumptions, or accusations about large groups of people."

Initiatives of the kind are taking place elsewhere in the country. In Arizona, Republicans are pushing a bill that would allow people to legally kill others accused of trespassing or attempting to trespass on their property. This would include migrants who are oftentimes caught crossing into the U.S. through ranches that sit at the border with Mexico.

The law expands existing doctrine, as the state already allows the use of deadly force against home intruders if considered necessary. It would now include a broader concept of "premises," encompassing occupied or unoccupied structures.

Texas has also passed a bill allowing law enforcement to arrest and deport migrants who cross the border illegally. Known as SB4, the law makes it a misdemeanor to illegally cross the border and a second-degree felony to do so for a second time. Punishments for this latter case range between 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison. The law also allows judges to order that undocumented people "return to the foreign nation from which they entered."

According to a new Gallup poll published on Tuesday, an increasingly growing number of Americans consider immigration to be the most important problem facing the country, above the government and the economy.

Overall, 28% of respondents said that was the case in February, an increase of eight percentage points compared to the previous month. It has surpassed the government (20%) and the combination of the "economy in general" (12%) and inflation (11%), over this time period.

Gallup noted that it is the first time in about five years that immigration ranks above all other issues included in the poll. The last time was in 2019, "when there was a surge of attempted border crossings by Central American migrants."

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