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Biden, GOP mention Laken Riley in SOTU and response

President Joe Biden mentioned murdered Georgia college student Laken Riley while discussing immigration during his State of the Union address Thursday before Congress.

The president was discussing a proposed bill aimed at strengthening border security when he was interrupted by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), demanding that Biden “say her name.”

“[Laken] Riley.  An innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That’s right. But how many of thousands of people have been killed by illegals,” Biden said. “To her parents, my heart goes out to having lost children myself. I understand. But look if we change the dynamics at the border, people pay these smugglers eight thousand bucks to get across the border. Because they know if they get by, it will be six to eight years before they have a hearing.”

Biden mispronounced Laken Riley’s first name as “Lincoln.”


Riley, a 22-year-old Augusta University nursing student, was murdered on the campus of the University of Georgia while out jogging. Authorities say the man accused of killing her was in the country illegally.

GOP response also brings attention to Laken Riley murder

Alabama Sen. Katie Britt issued the Republican response to Biden’s speech, in which she too mentioned Riley’s murder, linking the death to Biden’s “release of millions of illegal border crossers into this country.” 

“Just think about Laken Riley, In my neighboring state of Georgia, this beautiful, 22-year-old nursing student went out for a jog, but she never got the opportunity to return home. She was brutally murdered by one of the millions of illegal border crosser President Biden chose to release into our homeland,” Britt said. “As a mom, I can’t quit thinking about this. I mean, this could have been my daughter. This could have been yours. And tonight, President Biden finally said her name. But he refused to take responsibility for his own actions. Mr. President, enough is enough.”


Laken Riley’s parents decline invite to State of the Union

Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) invited Riley’s parents to the State of the Union, but said they declined. He instead left his guest seat vacant in honor of Laken.

Earlier in the day, in the same room, the House passed the “Laken Riley Act,” which would require the detention of any migrant accused of theft. Meanwhile, Republicans in Georgia are pushing for tougher state immigration laws.

Politicians have been accused of using Riley’s death to gain political points after learning her suspected killer, Jose Antonio Ibarra, entered the U.S. illegally in 2022.

Republicans continue to push for tougher immigration laws following Laken Riley’s murder

In Georgia, state Republicans have introduced House Bill 1105, which would require local law enforcement to help federal agents enforce immigration laws and enact penalties for sheriffs and jailers who don’t contact federal officials to check a prisoner’s immigration status.

Republican House Rep. Jesse Petrea sponsored the bill. He said the legislation solely deals with jailed immigrants charged with a crime who are in the country illegally.

“That bill is expressly about individuals in jails. They don’t want you to recognize that but if you look at the bill it is about individuals in custody in Georgia jails,” Rep. Jesse Petrea told FOX 5.  “The law already requires those individuals be reported to ICE, but this bill makes sure all sheriffs are doing that, because we’ve had many instances where they haven’t been.”   

Opponents argue the bill is ineffective and won’t make Georgia safer.

“It is time to stop using minorities and immigrants as political pawns,” Democratic state Representative Pedro Marin told reporters Thursday during a news conference.

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Randy Robertson introduced a bill that would bolster enforcement of Georgia’s sanctuary cities law.

“Those that legally immigrate over here they’re welcome in our communities.  It’s those that break the law to get here we have to worry about,” state Senator Randy Robertson told FOX 5’s Deidra Dukes.

If passed, local governments that engage in sanctuary policies would lose some state funding and have their sovereign immunity revoked.

This story was reported from Atlanta. FOX 5’s Deidra Dukes and Rob DiRienzo contributed to this report.

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