White House does not say if Biden will mention Laken Riley during State of the Union

The White House is not saying whether President Joe Biden will answer the call of Republicans to mention the murder of University of Georgia student Laken Riley during his State of the Union address.

“I don’t have anything to share about the president’s speech as it relates to that particular question,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “But we’ve, you know, we always want to be sure that we lift up the families who have lost their loved ones in that way.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) penned a letter to Biden challenging him to name Riley, who was allegedly murdered by an illegal immigrant, during the high-profile speech.

“As Commander-in-Chief, it is your duty to protect American citizens, and this tragedy highlights the urgent need to address the surge in crime resulting from your negligence at our southern border,” Banks wrote.

“Your failure to publicly acknowledge this tragedy is unacceptable,” he added. “The safety and security of American citizens should be your top priority. I am calling on you to publicly acknowledge the Riley family’s tragedy and take swift and decisive action to secure the border.”

The suspect arrested in the case is Jose Ibarra, a Venezuelan immigrant who was arrested in 2022 on charges of illegally crossing the border but was later released into the country. Ibarra had other run-ins with the law in New York and Athens, Georgia, but was not removed on account of those arrests, either.

“Will President Biden publicly address Laken Riley’s murder, allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant who was released by law enforcement multiple times, on Thursday night?” a reporter asked during Tuesday’s White House news briefing.

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After saying she didn’t have “anything to share” about the speech, Jean-Pierre said Republicans have refused to work with Biden on border security.

“I would be remiss if I did not continue to say that Republicans rejected a bipartisan proposal that came out of the Senate,” she said. “If they truly cared about what was going on at the border, if they truly cared about this immigration policy and trying to fix that … they would work with us on it.”

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