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Laken Riley's death in Georgia begs big unanswered questions. Here are 10

OpinionLaken Riley's death in Georgia begs big unanswered questions. Here are 10

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The horrific murder of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student at Augusta University who was found dead Thursday on the campus of the University of Georgia, captures many Americans’ concerns around immigration. Her death raises important questions to which Riley’s family – and all Americans – deserve answers. 

Jose Antonio Ibarra, a 26-year-old Venezuelan national, stands accused of this heinous crime, having allegedly acted without any prior connection to Riley. The commonsense questions now are: How did he get here? Should he have been here at all? 

Now let’s go beyond the obvious.

BIDEN WHITE HOUSE RESPONDS TO LAKEN RILEY MURDER ON UGA CAMPUS: ‘PEOPLE SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE’

Ibarra reportedly entered the United States at El Paso, Texas, in September 2022.  But a question that remains around Ibarra’s presence in the United States is the issue of sponsorship.  Under Biden-era immigration protocols, Venezuelan migrants can be “sponsored into” America by individuals or groups that are willing to take responsibility for the new arrivals. 

According to reports, Ibarra provided Covenant House, a youth homeless shelter in New York City, as his sponsor to gain entry into the U.S.   

Laken Riley poses for a photo

Laken Riley poses for a photo posted to Facebook. Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University was found dead near a lake on the University of Georgia campus on Thursday, February 22, 2024.  (Laken Riley/Facebook)

But in an email exchange with this writer, the Executive Director of Covenant House wrote that, 

Covenant House New York did not sponsor Jose Antonio Ibarra’s entry into the country and has not done so for any other person.  We do not know how our address came to be on his form, but there have been and continue to be instances when our address is given at the border.

Assuming that is accurate – and I have no reason to believe it is not – how is this possible?  Can asylees simply conjure sponsors out of the air? Does DHS not do the most rudimentary checks into the putative sponsors of asylum claimants?

The sponsorship issue begs other questions.  What, exactly is genuine “sponsorship” based on?  Considering that upwards of 85% of asylum claims are ultimately denied? 

And further: Do sponsors bear responsibility for keeping tabs on those they sponsor?  Including potential legal liability? 

FAMILY OF LAKEN RILEY SPEAKS OUT FOR FIRST TIME SINCE DAUGHTER’S TRAGIC SLAYING: ‘WILL BE MISSED EVERY DAY’

Whoever sponsored Ibarra – if anyone – the fact that Ibarra had a footprint in New York City appears factual.  New York police sources have indicated to the media that Ibarra was arrested in 2023 in Queens, New York, for Endangering The Welfare Of A Child, a charge serious enough to warrant attention but seemingly not sufficient to prevent his eventual release. 

Which highlights another point of failure here – and raises more questions.  Under New York City’s Sanctuary City status, NYC officials could not notify ICE regarding Ibarra’s criminal status. 

GEORGIA GOV. BRIAN KEMP DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM BIDEN ON RILEY SUSPECTED KILLER’S IMMIGRATION STATUS

But positing that ICE did become aware of Ibarra’s criminal status: What provision is there for a case like Ibarra’s? Considering that Venezuela’s President Maduro has suspended repatriation flights?  Where does a Venezuelan criminal like Ibarra go? Who houses him in the meantime? 

Has the Biden administration thought any of this through? 

The questions around this crime go to the heart of our current immigration debacle – and we deserve answers.  Apparently, ICE is currently taking the “no comment” approach at this time regarding the specifics of Ibarrra’s status. 

ICE CONFIRMS GEORGIA STUDENT MURDER SUSPECT ENTERED US ILLEGALLY, WAS PREVIOUSLY ARRESTED IN NYC

Unacceptable. The Biden administration must clarify: How exactly was Ibarra here?  Was he sponsored or simply a “got-away” who entered illegally, like millions of others? 

And is there any provision for Venezuelan migrants who run afoul of our justice system?

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One last important point to recall as we demand answers from our government: We, as taxpayers, are funding this madness.  According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the NGO’s most heavily involved in sponsoring asylum-claimants are funded through taxpayer grants, courtesy of the Biden administration.

Shouldn’t we at least understand what we’re paying for?

Finally, let’s not lose sight of what is at the heart of this discussion – and the stakes involved. Ibarra is accused of a shockingly brutal murder of what by all accounts was a bright, promising young woman dedicated to the noble profession of nursing. 

Further, Ibarra had been arrested for at least two crimes since arriving in America, was wanted on a bench warrant in Georgia on a shoplifting charge, and there exists no means of ascertaining if he engaged in criminal activities back in Venezuela. 

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So Laken Riley and Jose Ibarrra should never have encountered each other.  It is galling to even have to put their names in print together. 

Alas, in light of the lack of answers from the Biden administration regarding any of the above, it’s unlikely this is the last time two such names will have to appear together. 

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