Laken Riley Murder: Athens Sheriff Opposed Turning Criminal Illegal Aliens Over to ICE for Deportation

Laken Riley and Jose Antonio Ibarra (Facebook/CCSO)

Clarke County, Georgia, Sheriff John Q. Williams (D), representing Athens, where 22-year-old Laken Riley was murdered allegedly by an illegal alien, said he opposed turning criminal illegal aliens over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation, claiming the practice promotes a “culture of fear.”

On Feb. 23, 26-year-old illegal alien Jose Antonio Ibarra from Venezuela was charged with kidnapping and murdering Augusta University nursing student Laken Riley the day prior while she was out for a morning jog around the University of Georgia campus in Athens.

Ibarra, who crossed the United States-Mexico border in September 2022 and was quickly released into the U.S. interior, had been arrested in Athens in October 2023 for shoplifting but was not turned over to ICE agents. After he failed to appear in court, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

Williams, who successfully ran for sheriff in Clarke County Sheriff in 2020, told Athens Politics Nerds at the time that he opposed cooperating with ICE. The federal agency often relies on local law enforcement to turn over to their custody illegal aliens arrested for crimes so they can be detained and deported from the United States.

“It is not my intention, when elected sheriff, to cooperate with those detainers,” Williams said in response to a question regarding ICE detainers, which are issued against illegal aliens wanted by the agency after they are arrested on local charges:

We can’t help with a culture of fear in our community and expect the citizens to respond and help us in situations because the fact is that a lot of law enforcement is based around community support … if we are antagonizing people because they are what, undocumented or under-documented, then they’ve built that fear in them and they’re not likely to come to us not only when we need their help but when they need our help. [Emphasis added]

That’s not something we’ll be doing, we don’t be doing any types of round-ups, [and] we won’t be contributing to that culture of fear. [Emphasis added]

“What do you think we would find from an open records request to Athens-Clarke County Sheriff John Williams asking how many [ICE] detainer requests he hasn’t complied with?” Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA) wrote on Twitter.

Before ever arriving in Athens, Ibarra had already been shielded from deportation thanks to New York’s sanctuary state policy.

Ibarra was arrested in August 2023 in New York City and charged with injuring a child under 17 years old as well as with a motor vehicle violation. The sanctuary state law ensured that Ibarra was freed from jail before ICE agents could request custody of him.

It is almost certain that if he had been handed over to ICE agents, he never would have been in Athens months later at the time of Riley’s morning jog on Feb. 22.

Ibarra’s brother, 29-year-old illegal alien Diego Ibarra, crossed the border in April 2023 and also was released into the United States interior, where he made his way to New York City.

In September 2023, though, Diego Ibarra was arrested in Athens for drunk driving and driving without a license. In October 2023, he was arrested again for shoplifting and in December 2023, he was arrested for failing to appear in court.

After these arrests, ICE agents issued detainers for Diego Ibarra, seeking custody of him, but Clarke County officials failed to honor them and released him back into the community each time.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


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