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Georgia Republicans blast Biden’s border policies following student’s murder


(The Center Square) — Georgia Republicans say last week’s murder of a 22-year-old Augusta University nursing student on the University of Georgia campus in Athens was avoidable and said President Joe Biden’s immigration policies are partly to blame.

Authorities have charged Jose Antonio Ibarra, a 26-year-old Venezuelan national who entered the country illegally and was living in Athens. His brother was arrested on an unrelated charge, according to reports.

“ICE has confirmed that Jose Ibarra entered America illegally, was arrested in New York last year, and was released before a detainer could be issued,” Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King, a Republican, said on X, formerly Twitter. “This crime was preventable, and there are things we can do now to stop it from happening again at the state and federal levels.”

King, a native of Mexico and the first Latino elected to statewide office in Georgia, called on state and federal lawmakers to pass legislation to deport migrants lacking permanent legal status convicted of a crime once “their complete sentence is served.” He also said “any illegal immigrant convicted of a crime shouldn’t be eligible for parole or early release.”

This weekend, Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp fired off a letter to Biden demanding answers.

“Laken’s life should not have been ended so soon and we need to demand justice for what happened to her,” Kemp said Monday at the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce’s Pancakes and Policy Breakfast, according to his prepared remarks. “She deserves justice, her family deserves justice, and we need justice on a national level to prevent this type of thing from happening again.

“Laken’s death is a direct result of failed policies on the federal level and an unwillingness by this White House to secure the southern border,” the governor added.

Earlier this month, Kemp announced the state is sending additional Georgia National Guard members to the southern border.

However, state Democrats were quick to blast Republicans, saying they were playing politics with a tragedy.

“Republicans are using Laken Riley’s death as a call to arms on border control,” state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, said on X. “Remember it’s Republicans who killed immigration and border security legislation over and over. Let’s not politicize Laken’s tragic loss. Dems have come to the table. Rs excused themselves.”

State Sen. Jason Esteves, D-Atlanta, similarly jumped on Republicans.

“Laken Riley’s family deserves space to grieve without being used for cheap political points,” Esteves said on X. “Those who bring up border security should take that up with [former President Donald] Trump, who recently whipped Republicans in DC into shelving a bipartisan border security bill.”

Speaker of the House Jon Burns, R-Newington, said, “House leadership will be pressing for answers over the coming days as to why exactly the suspect and his brother continued to roam freely in the Athens area.”

“This tragedy is as lamentable as it is maddening – and while our state continues to mourn Laken’s loss, over the coming days, the Georgia House will be looking at ways to strengthen the security of our state, enhance public safety, and act where the federal government has failed to do so,” Burns said in a statement. “At every step, we will be guided by the facts, do what’s right for the people of Georgia, and work to deliver justice to a family whose light was taken far too soon.”