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Georgia Jogger Victim Becomes Key Immigration Point In Election Race

With an unscripted clash between President Biden and a Georgia congresswoman at last week's State of the Union speech, the slaying of a Georgia nursing student was cemented as a political rallying point in the 2024 presidential race. Laken Hope Riley, 22, has become the face of immigration reform for many conservatives since she was killed while jogging in a park on the University of Georgia campus on Feb. 22, the Associated Press reports. At the State of the Union address, Biden held up a pin with Riley’s name on it as U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) shouted from the gallery: “Say her name!” Immigration has emerged as a major campaign issue, dividing the nation and straining resources in New York, Chicago, Boston and other cities after migrants settle there and in communities across the U.S. after crossing the nation’s southern border.

Republicans say some migrants with criminal backgrounds are not vetted and are improperly released into communities, putting U.S. citizens at risk. They have seized on the Georgia case to make those claims as the 2024 election heats up. Riley’s killing is “gonna change this election as much as anything,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an ally of former President Donald Trump. Hours after Riley was slain, Athens homicide detectives pulled a photo from a surveillance camera of a potential suspect who wore a distinctive Adidas hat. That eventually led them to an off-campus apartment complex where they searched the grounds and a Dumpster nearby and began to piece together details about Jose Ibarra, 26, a Venezuelan citizen. Immigration officials say Ibarra entered the U.S. illegally and was allowed to stay. He unlawfully crossed into the U.S. in 2022.


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