Sharice Davids voted against Laken Riley Act before she voted for it

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Third District Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids followed 37 other Democrats on Thursday to switch their votes in favor of the detention of illegal immigrants who are charged with additional crimes, after previously opposing the measure named after murdered Athens Georgia nursing student Laken Riley.

Davids and remaining Democrats in the chamber voted twice against the measure when it was attached to a capital funding bill considered earlier by the Congress. That bill eventually passed two roll call votes by a single digit margin, with all Democrats in the chamber voting in opposition.

Kansas’ remaining congressional contingent – Representatives LaTurner, Estes and Mann – all Republicans – all supported the measure in each of its forms.

But the vote changed when HR7511, named the Laken Riley Act, was considered on a stand alone basis and brought to an eventual closing of 251 in favor to 170 against. Five Republicans and six Democrats did not cast a vote on the bill. The vote came just hours before President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, but in the midst of growing public sentiment that border security is one of the most major issues of the 2024 election cycle.

The Laken Riley Act requires ICE agents to take into custody and hold in detention any illegal immigrant charged by local authorities for theft, burglary, larceny or shoplifting. Investigators say Riley was brutally murdered by Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan illegal who was previously arrested in New York last summer for child endangerment but was released before immigration officials could file a request to hold him in custody. He was also arrested in Athens Georgia in October and had a bench warrant issued for his arrest after failing to show up for a court date. 

A 2023 Inspector General’s Report said 93 percent of all illegals apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol had been released into the United States./Federation for Immigration Reform photo

Ibarra allegedly confronted the 22-year-old Riley on a popular Athens jogging trail and beat her to death. U.S. border patrol officials say he entered the country illegally in El Paso Texas on September 8, 2022, with his wife and her son, all seeking asylum. They were turned loose pending “further processing,”  according to ICE.

Davids was recently on the record voting against the impeachment of U.S. Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas for gross dereliction of border security, and for voting against the border security bill H.R. 2, which among other things would have re-instituted construction of the border wall pursued by the Trump Administration but canceled when Biden took office.

Dane Hicks is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA. He is the author of novels "The Skinning Tree" and "A Whisper For Help." As publisher of the Anderson County Review in Garnett, KS., he is a recipient of the Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award as well as more than 60 awards for excellence in news, editorial and photography.

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