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ICE says Georgia murder suspect’s brother was previously arrested, but detainers were ignored


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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Thursday the brother of the suspect charged with the murder of Georgia student Laken Riley was arrested multiple times in Athens, Georgia, in 2023, but its requests to take him into custody were ignored.

Diego Ibarra, a Venezuelan national, was arrested last week and charged with green card fraud. 

His younger brother, Jose, is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another in the homicide of Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student.

LAKEN RILEY MURDER SUSPECT’S BROTHER FIRED FROM UGA DINING HALL JOB AFTER PRESENTING FAKE GREEN CARD 

Diego Ibarra, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, allegedly handed over a fake green card to police on the hunt for his brother Jose, who they accuse of killing Georgia nursing student Laken Riley. (Clarke County Sheriffs Office)

Jose Ibarra is accused of killing Riley while she was jogging along a popular pedestrian loop around Lake Herrick on the University of Georgia’s campus in Athens Feb. 22. The two brothers from Venezuela were living in the United States illegally. ICE confirmed Jose’s illegal status earlier this week.

In a statement Thursday, ICE said Diego Ibarra had first entered the U.S. April 3, 2023, near Eagle Pass, Texas, but was removed via the COVID-era Title 42 process. He reentered April 30 and was enrolled into “Alternatives to Detention,” by which migrants are monitored via GPS tracking when released. 

BROTHER OF UGA MURDER SUSPECT CHARGED WITH GREEN CARD FRAUD 

He was released May 12, 2023, but by May 25 was judged to have bolted from the program after abnormalities with his GPS tracking device. Enrollees can be tracked in a number of ways, including a bracelet or a cell phone app. Last year, the administration pushed for a reduction in ICE detention beds and more funding for ATD but is now pushing for more detention beds. 

The ICE statement said he has several arrests in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, but that ICE detainers — requests that ICE be notified when an illegal immigrant is being released for a transfer to ICE custody — were not honored.

Laken Riley in a medical coat in a grassy field

Laken Riley poses for a photo posted to Facebook. Riley, a nursing student, was found dead near a lake on the campus of the University of Georgia Feb. 22, 2024. (Allyson Phillips/Facebook)

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department told Fox News Digital it is not responsible for ICE notifications and does not have access to immigration status. It said that is instead handled by the Clarke County jail and directed Fox to the Clarke County Sheriff’s office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why the detainers were not honored. 

The revelation comes a day after Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz repeatedly rejected the characterization Athens is a “sanctuary” city.

“There’s been no legislation from this government that’s created sanctuary city status,” he said.

WHITE HOUSE CALLS FOR SANCTUARY CITIES TO COOPERATE WITH ICE AMID FUROR OVER ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CRIMES

Fox reported this week that Diego Ibarra was fired from the University of Georgia after it was discovered he presented a fake green card to work at the school’s dining hall.

“Diego Ibarra presented a fake green card to the hiring unit to begin a temporary position as a dishwasher in Bolton Dining Hall at the University of Georgia on Feb. 6, 2024,” UGA spokesperson Greg Trevor told Fox News Digital in a statement.

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Diego then failed to “submit further documentation required to keep the job and was never paid by the university” before he was “fired,” Trevor added.

The White House on Wednesday issued a statement to Fox News Digital calling on local governments to work with ICE on deporting violent criminals.

“We welcome local law enforcement’s support and cooperation in apprehending and removing individuals who pose a risk to national security or public safety,” a White House spokesperson told Fox News Digital on Wednesday in response to a question about its stance on sanctuary cities.

“When a local jurisdiction has information about an individual who could pose a threat to public safety, we want them to share that information with ICE.

“Just since May 12, DHS has removed or returned more than 565,000 individuals, the vast majority of whom crossed the southwest border. (The) 565,000 removals and returns is more than every full fiscal year since 2013.”

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.



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