Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Georgia Latino groups condemn ‘heinous’ crime at UGA as they fear anti-immigrant rhetoric

By 37ci3 Feb27,2024



ATHENS, Ga. – After this suspect the killing of a nursing student It turned out to be Laken Riley An undocumented immigrant from VenezuelaUniversity of Georgia students and Latino organizations have pleaded against hateful rhetoric against Hispanics and immigrants.

The Latino Community Foundation Georgia The group’s executive director and founder, Gilda Pedraza, said it was monitoring people who said they wanted to go “immigrant hunting,” which she described as “harmful stories” and “very real.” life threatening.”

Pedraza said he has personally seen the seemingly threatening social media posts from local residents. The comments so alarmed some of his group’s member organizations and Latino community leaders that they removed their contact information from their websites. “People just don’t feel safe,” he said. “We’re really trying to avoid negative stories.”

In campus of approximately 41,000 studentsAbout 7% of the student population at the University of Georgia identifies as Spanish.

“It’s appalling that people are so likely to target us because of what one person did. If we did this to every group of people who did something wrong, we would never reconcile,” Laura Figueroa, a junior at the University of Georgia, told NBC News. “It shouldn’t be happening in a really sad and scary situation. All I feel is sadness.”

Riley’s body was found Thursday after a friend reported her missing after she didn’t return from an early-morning jog on wooded trails. University of Georgia. The 22-year-old was a UGA graduate and studying nursing at another school. University Police Chief Jeff Clark told reporters that Riley suffered “visible injuries” and died of blunt force trauma. Clark also described Riley’s killing as a “crime of opportunity.”

The next day, Jose Antonio Ibarra was identified as the suspect in the young woman’s death. Ibarra, 26, was booked into the Clarke County Jail on several charges, including first degree murder, felony murder, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another. Ibarra did not attend the University of Georgia and is an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela.

Since then, Republican leaders, including former President Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson there is pointed to Riley’s killing to push for tougher immigration policies.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King, a Republican and Latino, has called for tougher state laws. in an opinion piece on Sunday. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican whose immigration status is also the suspect’s, publicly blamed Riley’s death on the border and immigration policies of the Biden administration, saying in a speech on Monday that the system’s various levels of failure “resulted in the death of a young woman.” ”

In response to an email from NBC News, Kemp’s press secretary, Garrison Douglas, said it was “not only absurd, but an insult to the intelligence of the American people to classify the Biden administration’s calls to secure the southern border of the United States. A substantial majority of Americans support itas anti-immigrant.”

Republican calls for more border security have drawn responses from Latino Democrats like state Sen. Jason Esteves. Who said on Twitter “Those pushing for border security should take it up with Trump, who recently whipped Republicans in DC to shelve a bipartisan border security bill.”

Esteves also said the Laken Riley family should be able to “grieve without being used for cheap political points.”

A challenge against “generalizations”.

The Latino Community Foundation Georgia issued a statement over the weekend called for a “thorough investigation that will bring justice to his family and the community in Athens” and warned that nationality, race or immigration status “should not be used to make generalizations, assumptions or accusations about large groups of people.”

“We strongly reject any comments or statements that suggest that immigrants and/or Latinos are dangerous or problematic,” their statement read.

Pedraza said he thought “the statement would be a proactive step,” but then group published, They had to close comments on the post on social media because it “received so many hateful comments.”

Campus organizations serving Latino students at the university dropped two open letters over the weekend, expressing how concerned they were to “witness this heartbreaking event being used as a platform for racism and xenophobia in our campus community.”

“While we unequivocally condemn this heinous crime against one of our peers, we are equally appalled and outraged by the unjust targeting and persecution of the entire Latino community in the aftermath.” one of the letters is read.

Students went to and from class as usual on Monday, but for many, last week’s tragedy was still fresh in their minds as they moved around the sprawling campus.

“We are all saddened and devastated to lose a classmate,” junior transfer student Sophia Diaz said.

“It’s a focus for dealing with tragedy,” sophomore Lourdes Martin said. “You don’t expect something so tragic to happen on campus.”

Martin said that while some people “try to turn one bad thing into a reason to do other bad things … everyone seems to be heartbroken right now.”

Hispanic student associations at the University of Georgia will hold emotional support events to help Latino students who may feel targeted or vulnerable at this time, to “promote a safe environment for open dialogue and a sense of unity among participants.” to a university email shared with NBC News.

Barbara Machado-Requena, a student of Venezuelan heritage at the university, Telemundo Atlanta reported“I hope people don’t think this man represents our community.”

Machado-Requena said she is “very sad and disappointed” by the assumptions made against her community, and that a place on campus that many visit may not be as safe as they think.

Curtis Bunn reported from Athens and Nicole Acevedo reported from New York.





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