Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Father of Laken Riley addresses slain daughter’s legacy amid heated immigration debate

By 37ci3 Mar18,2024

BUFORD, Ga. – his father Laken RileyA Georgia nursing student killed on a run remembers him as a “strong person” who excelled in academics, but fears his death will be used as a political wedge to “incite people”. for the November elections.

Politicians have brought up his name at campaign rallies, speeches and the immigration bill of the same name, but have made it an election-year flashpoint since he was killed two years ago by suspected illegal alien Jason. After Riley’s death, he spent the last month thinking.

“I wish I could have been there to protect her,” he said in an interview aired Monday on NBC’s “TODAY” show – the first time he has spoken publicly since his daughter was killed. “I wish I was.”

Laken Riley’s killing fueled an already heated debate over immigration policies under the Biden administration, and gained even more attention when President Joe Biden addressed her at an unscripted moment during his speech. State of the Union address this month.

Jason Riley said of his daughter’s death: “I wish she wasn’t such a politician, how do you say – it started a storm in our country,” he said, “and it provoked a lot of people.”

As a result of the split, she said, referring to her and Riley’s mother, “there are people on both sides who are insulting our families.”

She said that even though Riley’s mother divorced when she was young, she and her daughter stayed close, calling each other often. She talked about her desire to graduate from Augusta University’s college of nursing and work at a children’s hospital. He also listed his goals for the year, including going on a date after having such a “learning bug,” his father said.

Laken Riley, left, with former roommate Bianca Tiller during her freshman year at the University of Georgia.
Laken Riley, left, with former roommate Bianca Tiller during her freshman year at the University of Georgia.Courtesy Bianca Tiller

She was so busy with school, sorority and church that the couple last spoke two weeks before her death.

“It was really surreal. I just didn’t want to believe it – it’s still hard to believe,” Jason Riley said, choking back tears. “I wake up every day thinking I can call him, I can’t.”

Adding to the difficulty of grieving is the national spotlight on Biden’s death, which exploded after his State of the Union address.

Halfway through Biden’s speech, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., encouraged him to “say his name” from the gallery, prompting Biden to hold up a pin Greene had previously given him with “Laken Riley.”

Biden mispronounced her name as “Lincoln Riley” and described her as “an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal person.” a term that has drawn criticism immigration supporters who recognize it as dehumanizing language. (Biden told MSNBC sorry for using the word.)

“My heart aches for you,” Biden told Riley’s family during his speech. “I understand because I’ve lost kids.”

But in response to what Biden said, Jason Riley feels overwhelmed by how politicized the situation surrounding his daughter’s death has become.

“I think it’s being used politically to get those votes,” Jason Riley said. “It makes me angry. I feel like, you know, they’re just using my daughter’s name. And she was better than that and she should be raised for who she is. She was an angel.”

Jason Riley said he supports former President Donald Trump and, while he prefers not to be “so political” about his daughter’s death, he has opened up the necessary discussions to secure the southern border and help women, including victims of human trafficking. trafficking.

“Laken has been a rallying cry for secure borders and the illegal immigration policies of this current administration, but there are many women who are not being heard,” she said.

A bill honoring Biden’s daughter Riley on State of the Union Day is the author Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., passed the GOP-led House with the support of 37 Democrats. If signed into law, the Laken Riley Act would require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to apprehend undocumented immigrants who commit theft-related crimes, such as shoplifting, and would allow state attorneys general to sue the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security to stop the crime. take immigration action when “policy failures” harm the state or its citizens.

Some Democrats have accused Republicans of using Riley’s death to score political points.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., The House called the bill He called it “smoke and mirrors” created by Republicans and that “they should get serious rather than demagogue this tragic death of this young woman.”

Trump, who met with Riley’s mother, Allyson Phillips, and stepfather before a campaign rally in Georgia this month, blamed Biden’s policies for contributing to his death. record number of migrants they crossed the southern border.

While the police investigation is ongoing, Phillips declined media requests. In a Facebook comment in response to Biden’s speech, she wrote that it was “pathetic” that “Biden DOESN’T even KNOW my child’s name.”

The suspect is a citizen of Venezuela Jose Antonio Ibarra, entered the United States illegally in 2022 near El Paso, Texas, immigration officials said. Last summer, New York police charged him with injury to a child under the age of 17 and a motor vehicle license violation. He was released before immigration authorities could ask the police to detain him.

In October, Ibarra and his brother, who are in the country illegally, were issued citations for shoplifting from a Walmart in Athens, Georgia, police said. Ibarra did not appear in court on a bench warrant. He lived in an apartment in Athens, a mile from the University of Georgia campus.

Riley, 22, was reported missing on Feb. 22 after a friend said she went jogging on the college’s intramural fields that morning and never returned. He was an accomplished runner, having competed in high school and run marathons, and his father said he would usually train with friends.

But that day he went alone. Her body was found in some woods on campus, and police said she suffered “visible injuries” and died of blunt force trauma.

The next day, Ibarra was named as a suspect, who investigators said tied him to security video. Associated Press. The police did not find a specific motive for the attack, which they assessed as a “crime of opportunity”.

Ibarra is being held in the Clarke County Jail on multiple charges including first degree murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, kidnapping and concealing the death of another.

Jason Riley says his daughter’s killing shows that people crossing into the U.S. aren’t properly vetted, though he’s not sure if that will make a difference in his case.

“I understand they want to come here for a better life,” she said of migrants, “but when you have gang members and people who can commit violent crimes, especially against women, I think we can stop some of that.”

While Trump’s campaign rhetoric sought to link immigrants to increased crime, expert analysis and data from major city police departments show that despite a few high-profile incidents, there is no evidence of a crime wave committed by migrants.

A random attack on the University of Georgia campus sparked public outcry security improvements. The said the school will allocate more than $7 million to new safety initiatives, including additional police and emergency call boxes.

Jason Riley said he was distracted by news of his daughter’s death and the details of the case, preferring to remember her life.

Despite his name being brought up in a political context, he said he would think about how others remembered him at the funeral, where hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects. Her mother’s family also creates a scholarship fund and foundation for young women to raise awareness about homicides and safety.

“He was only 22 years old. He had a lot of life to give to the world,” Jason Riley said.

“If everyone could live like Laken,” he added, “it would make the world a better place.”

Priscilla Thompson and Rebecca Byrd reported from Buford and Eric Ortiz from New York.

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By 37ci3

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