Clarke County

‘It was preventable;’ Gov. Kemp blames Biden’s policies on border control for Laken Riley murder

ATHENS — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp addressed the Athens-Clarke Chamber of Commerce Monday following the death of Laken Riley.

Last week, police arrested 26-year-old Jose Ibarra of Venezuela in connection to the murder of Riley, who was attacked while running on UGA’s intramural fields.

Channel 2 Action News cameras were in the room as Kemp spoke about the death of the 22-year-old and said he spoke with her family over the weekend.

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“First of all, [the family is] devastated. They are heartbroken. Marty and I both can understand. Our daughters are at the University of Georgia, and they work out in that same area [as Laken Riley],” Kemp said. “They’re also mad like I am that this happened. It was preventable because we just have a nightmare in this country with mass migration and then have people that are here illegally breaking our laws and they’re not telling anybody and reporting this to us.”

Immigration Customs Enforcement confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that Ibarra entered the U.S. illegally.

During his remarks, Kemp pivoted to discussing his views on border control, accusing President Joe Biden’s administration of being the reason more immigrants have been able to enter the country illegally.

In a letter sent to Biden on Saturday, Kemp asked the president to share why his administration was unaware of Ibarra’s asylum claims and criminal background. Kemp also asked Biden to provide any additional information that the federal government has regarding Ibarra’s immigration status.


“Frankly, Mr. President, your continued silence in response to these reasonable requests is outrageous,” Kemp wrote. “The American people deserve to know who is illegally entering our country due to your administration’s failures and what risks and challenges every state must now face.”

Georgia Democrats such as Georgia State Senator Jason Esteves responded to Georgia Republicans’ calls for border control by stating that Riley’s death should not be used for politics.

“Laken Riley’s family deserves space to grieve without being used for cheap political points,” Esteves wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Those who bring up border security should take that up with Trump, who recently whipped Republicans in D.C. into shelving a bipartisan border security bill.”

Channel 2 Action News reached out to the Biden administration and Georgia Democrats.

The White House responded Monday afternoon with the following:

“We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Laken Hope Riley. People should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law if they are found to be guilty. Given this is an active case, we would have to refer you to state law enforcement and ICE.”

Georgia Republicans are now pushing legislation that could charge local sheriffs if they fail to report illegal immigrants in their jails and to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We just have a nightmare in this country with mass migration, and then have people who are here illegally breaking our laws, and they’re not telling anyone and reporting it to us,” Kemp said.

Georgia’s Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff was at the Capitol Monday too and said he’s asked for homeland security for all the records surrounding Ibarra’s prior encounters with immigration authorities.

Ossof said the Senate almost had a bi-partisan agreement on border security, but blamed Donald Trump for its failure.

“That’s why the former president’s decision to deliberately tank the bi-partisan security legislation that was proceeding through the Senate so destructive, in my view, to our national security,” Ossoff said.

The immigration-related bills could get voted out of committee Tuesday and be up for a vote in the House later in the week.

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