The Story of a Georgia Nursing Student’s Killing and Its Mention in Biden’s State of the Union Address

Credits: CBS 42

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday took an unexpected turn when Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene shouted from the chamber, demanding that he “Say her name,” in reference to Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student found dead on the campus of the University of Georgia last month.

Riley’s murder, allegedly committed by a Venezuelan man who entered the U.S. illegally, has ignited a heated debate over immigration in Georgia.

Georgia Republicans, including Governor Brian Kemp, have been quick to link Riley’s tragic death to the Biden Administration’s immigration policies, criticizing what they perceive as an unwillingness to secure the southern border.

Georgia Nursing Student’s Killing Conversation (Credits: The New York Times)

The Biden administration has advocated for additional funds to strengthen border enforcement, improve detention facilities, and hire more border patrol agents and immigration judges. Still, these proposals have not advanced in Congress.

During the State of the Union, Greene handed Biden a white button with Riley’s name on it and later interrupted his speech as he discussed immigration, emphasizing that the issue is about Riley and her tragic death. Biden responded by expressing his condolences to Riley’s parents, acknowledging the pain of losing a child.

However, the exchange was not without controversy. Some Republicans criticized Biden for appearing to mispronounce Riley’s name as “Lincoln,” while some Democrats criticized his use of the term “illegal” as a noun to describe a person, arguing that it dehumanizes undocumented immigrants.

In response to Riley’s death, Republicans in the U.S. House passed the Laken Riley Act, which aims to detain undocumented people accused of certain crimes like shoplifting.

Meanwhile, Georgia lawmakers are pushing through several immigration-focused bills, including one that would require municipalities to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies or risk losing state funding and another that would allow private citizens to take legal action against non-cooperating municipalities.

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