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Want to keep women runners safe? Secure the border

OpinionWant to keep women runners safe? Secure the border

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As a female marathoner, I prioritize high-quality running equipment, including emergency protective gear like pepper spray designed for runners. Laken Riley, a prepared runner and Augusta University student, was murdered by an illegal immigrant while jogging near her college campus late last week. 

Online running influencers are focusing on increased awareness for women’s safety while mainstream news outlets dance around the facts of the case – but the truth is that this travesty highlights an even bigger problem our country faces: 

Our lack of border security continues to cost American lives. 

A photo of the UGA crime scene below photos of Laken Riley and suspect Jose Ibarra

Jose Ibarra, an illegal immigrant, lived within a five-minute walk of the approximate scene where he allegedly murdered 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley on Feb. 22. (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital/ Laken Riley/ Jose Ibarra)

The growing list of citizens killed by illegal immigrants highlights the broader impact of our embarrassing and dangerous southern border policies. Since President Biden took office in 2021, an estimated 7.2 million illegal immigrants have crossed the southern border – equivalent to the population of the entire state of Arizona, and about 3.5 times the number of people residing in the state of New Mexico.

LAKEN RILEY’S DEATH IN GEORGIA BEGS BIG UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. HERE ARE 10

December 2023 marked the highest number of encounters at the southern border on record. While mainstream news pundits tout that crossings have recently plummeted, last month was still distinguished by the highest number of border encounters ever recorded for the month of January. 

What is even more concerning is that a record number of these migrants are coming from China as well. In the last four months alone, the Border Patrol has recorded more apprehensions of Chinese migrants than from all of 2007 to 2020 combined

These statistics are damning – and yet, those of us raising awareness on this issue must do more than merely retell facts about the border crisis. Stats alone will not properly convey the emergency that is our lack of national security. Commentators, influencers, policy makers and even runners must say the names and tell the stories of these victims in order to bring about real change. 

WHAT I SAW AT THE BORDER AND WHAT I HOPE BIDEN UNDERSTANDS WHEN HE VISITS THIS WEEK

While it is true that evil people will always seek ways to commit wicked acts, this particular crime against Laken Riley could have been prevented by the enforcement of immigration laws. 

Border security is one of the few responsibilities inherent to a national government – after all, governments are instituted to protect their citizens – and yet, this is the duty our federal government is accomplishing least. 

Border enforcement has become so nonexistent that states have taken it upon themselves to enforce the national border in order to protect citizens. But this is a job states cannot manage on their own; it really is up to the president and Congress to fulfill this duty. 

BIDEN GOT SUCKERED INTO BORDER BATTLE HE CAN’T WIN

Congress has failed to enact significant immigration reform time and time again. But November is coming, and our lawmakers are ultimately responsible to us, the people. Perhaps Congress needs to sense urgency from their constituents in order to feel pressured into significant border and immigration reform. There are plenty of distracting wars overseas – wars that may require our attention – but we will have more and more emergencies at home if we do not enforce our sovereign borders. 

Governors of red-leaning states have scored political points by sending migrants to sanctuary cities across the United States – cities including the town of Athens, Georgia, where Laken Riley was killed. Although needed attention was drawn to the immigration crisis through these political maneuvers, perhaps governors can take it upon themselves to send migrants back to their home countries if the president and Congress refuse to act. 

If buses can be shipped all across the United States full of homeless migrants, certainly they can be turned around and sent back over the Mexican border.

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In general, the left is better at storytelling than the right is; conservatives infamously care more about facts than feelings. In this case, however, we must continue to tell the stories of these women who were wrongly killed by illegal immigrants: Lizbeth Medina, Kate Steinle, Mollie Tibbets and Laken Riley, just to name a few. 

Conservatives must bring about change by telling the truth, by saying their names, posting their pictures, and telling their stories… in order that change may actually come to fruition. 

I’m grateful that regardless of political affiliation, the running community agrees that women should be protected while doing this sport we love, but no amount of protective gear will keep women safe if our border policies continue to incentivize the easy arrival of criminals in the United States. 

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In raising awareness, let’s not miss the main point of the story: an innocent, well-prepared runner was killed by an illegal immigrant. Her death was altogether avoidable, and you can point the blame squarely at our elected leaders for shirking their primary responsibility of protecting citizens.

November is coming. Let us do our part in not only raising awareness on runners’ safety, but also put pressure on our elected leaders to do their jobs and protect citizens by enforcing the United States border.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM JULIANA SWEENY

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