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Laken Riley’s father says suspect ‘might not have been here’ if border was secure

The father of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student who was allegedly murdered by a Venezuelan illegal immigrant, spoke out for the first time Monday.

The Venezuelan migrant accused of murdering 22-year-old Georgia nursing student Laken Riley last month “might not have been here” had the border been secured, her father said Monday.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his daughter’s death, Jason Riley was asked during an interview with NBC’s “Today” whether he thinks a stronger immigration policy would have made a difference after his daughter’s slaying ignited a debate about the current border crisis plaguing the Biden administration. 

“We have no idea if that would have changed anything, but he’s here illegally,” Jason Riley said. “That he might not have been here had we had secure borders.”


Jose Ibarra, a 26-year-old Venezuelan illegal immigrant charged with Riley’s murder, entered the United States through El Paso, Texas, in 2022 and was freed on border parole. He initially lived in New York City, where he was arrested for endangering a child prior to his move to Athens, Georgia.

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Ibarra is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another in connection to Riley’s murder.

Ibarra lived with his two brothers in an apartment complex near the University of Georgia campus, which is about a five-minute walk from the approximate scene, where he allegedly killed the 22-year-old. The murder suspect’s two brothers, Diego Ibarra, 29, and Argenis Ibarra, 24, had also entered the country illegally.

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Riley, a nursing student from Augusta University, was found dead on the UGA campus on Feb. 22, after her roommate reported to authorities that she had not returned home from her morning run.

Earlier this month, Riley’s mother, Allyson Phillips, slammed President Biden as “pathetic” for saying her daughter’s name incorrectly during his State of the Union speech. The president had seemed to refer to the 22-year-old as “Lincoln” rather than “Laken” in his speech.

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“Lincoln Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That’s right. But how many thousands of people are being killed by legals?” the president said in an off-script moment prompted by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., shouting at Biden, “Say her name!” while he was discussing the border crisis. 

Her father told the outlet that he feels his daughter is “being used somewhat politically.”

“It makes me angry,” Jason Riley said. “She was much better than that. She should be raised up for the person that she is.”

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.

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