March 7, 2024

By Jenny Goldsberry


Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) celebrated the passage of the Laken Riley Act while blasting her Democratic counterparts for voting against it.

Stefanik appeared on Fox News’s America’s Newsroom on Thursday immediately after the House voted to pass the legislation named after the University of Georgia student Laken Riley, whose body was discovered on campus on Feb. 22. Riley was allegedly murdered by Jose Ibarra, an illegal immigrant living near campus who has been arrested in connection to her death. He faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another. This legislation in Riley’s honor would require immigration officials to detain immigrants charged with crimes.

“Well, first of all, House Republicans stand strongly for securing our borders, and Laken Riley’s death was avoidable and a tragedy because of Joe Biden’s dangerous open border policies. And what’s a disgrace is that you have many, many Democrats who voted against this important bill,” Stefanik said. “So, this is very important for us to continue to show leadership where Joe Biden has failed. And this border is a catastrophe of Joe Biden’s doing, and it’s leading to the loss of innocent lives.”

The legislation passed with a vote of 251 to 170, with 37 Democratic representatives voting for the measure and the rest voting against it. During the State of the Union address on Thursday evening, the House Republican’s speaker’s balcony will feature an empty chair in homage to Riley. Her parents rejected an invitation to attend the presidential address in Washington.

“So my heart goes out to Laken’s parents. We grieve for them, and we are going to continue to stand strongly for our legislation, Secure the Border Act, which would have avoided this unnecessary loss of life,” Stefanik said.

Ibarra was arrested in the United States prior to the alleged crime, and authorities knew he was an illegal immigrant but released him back into the country rather than deport him.