Trump blames ‘Biden’s border invasion’ for Laken Riley murder, vows ‘largest deportation operation’ if elected

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Former President Donald Trump blasted Democrat border security and law enforcement policies for the murder of Georgia student Laken Riley at the hands of an illegal immigrant, vowing that “when” elected, he will “immediately seal the border” and begin the “largest deportation operation of illegal criminals in American history.” 

Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student from Augusta University, was found dead on the University of Georgia campus Thursday after her roommate reported to authorities that she had not returned home from her morning run. 

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

The University of Georgia Police Department took Jose Antonio Ibarra into custody and charged him with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another, UGA Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark said during a news briefing Friday evening. 

Former President Donald Trump speaks on Feb. 9, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Spencer Platt)

The suspect is not a U.S. citizen. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Sunday confirmed that the Venezuelan national entered the U.S. illegally in 2022 and had previously been arrested in New York City.

“Crooked Joe Biden’s Border INVASION is destroying our country and killing our citizens!” Trump, the 2024 GOP frontrunner, said Monday in a post on his TRUTH Social. “The horrible murder of 22-year-old Laken Riley at the University of Georgia should have NEVER happened!”  

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

University of Georgia murder suspect Jose Ibarra 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)

Trump said, “the monster who took her life illegally entered our Country in 2022… and then was released AGAIN by Radical Democrats in New York after injuring a CHILD!!”

GEORGIA STUDENT MURDER SUSPECT CONFIRMED TO BE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT

“When I am your President, we will immediately Seal the Border, Stop the Invasion, and on Day One, we will begin the largest deportation operation of illegal CRIMINALS in American History!” Trump said. 

He added: “May God Bless Laken Riley and her family!!! Our prayers are with you!” 

Fox News had previously reported that Ibarra had crossed into the U.S. illegally near El Paso in September 2022 and was paroled into the U.S.

LAKEN RILEY CASE: GEORGIA AUTHORITIES IDENTIFY MURDER SUSPECT IN CUSTODY IN NURSING STUDENT’S SLAYING

In a statement to Fox News Digital, ICE confirmed he had been encountered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Sept. 8, 2022, after entering near El Paso and was “paroled and released for further processing.”

A memorial for Laken Riley is seen along Lake Herrick on the University of Georgia’s campus

A memorial for Laken Riley is seen along Lake Herrick on the University of Georgia’s campus in Athens on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital)

ICE also confirmed that Ibarra had been arrested by the New York Police Department a year later, on Sept. 14, 2023, and “charged with acting in a manner to injure a child less than 17 and a motor vehicle license violation.”

When ICE learns that what it believes to be a removable illegal immigrant has been arrested on criminal charges, the agency will normally lodge a detainer – a request asking local law enforcement to keep the suspect in custody until they can be transferred to ICE and put into deportation proceedings.

LAKEN RILEY MURDER SUSPECT JOSE IBARRA LIVED WITHIN 5-MINUTE WALK OF UGA CRIME SCENE

In this case, however, ICE’s statement says Ibarra was released before a detainer could be issued. NYC is also a “sanctuary city,” which generally restricts law enforcement from complying with ICE detainers.

Ibarra appeared in court on Saturday morning, when Clarke County Magistrate Judge Donarell Green denied his bond “for today.” Two translators were present. Ibarra nodded when spoken to.

Ibarra’s brother, Diego, was charged Friday with possessing a fraudulent green card and is being held in state custody. The federal arrest affidavit for Diego Ibarra says that in September 2023, Athens-Clarke County Police charged him with drunken driving and driving without a license. He was later arrested for shoplifting and later skipped court.

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In its statement, ICE said its Enforcement and Removal Operations office in Atlanta “encountered Ibarra pursuant to his arrest by the University of Georgia Police Department and being charged with murder and other crimes. ERO Atlanta lodged a detainer.” 

UGA Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark said “the evidence is robust” against Ibarra. 

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz, Bill Melugin and Haley Chi-Sing contributed to this report.

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