Americans Don’t Know About Laken Riley’s Murder

How do we stop tragedies like the murder of Laken Riley if Americans do not even know the details of her horrific yet completely preventable homicide?

Thankfully, highly politically engaged citizens know well the details of Laken’s vicious murder on the University of Georgia campus one month ago. In broad daylight, the 22-year-old nursing student was out jogging when she was brutally slain in an unprovoked attack. Jose Antonio Ibarra has been charged with her murder.

Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, has been charged with the murder of Laken Riley (Photo courtesy of Clarke County Sheriff’s Office)

A Venezuelan, Ibarra trespassed into America in September of 2022. He was arrested but allowed to remain in the United States under the lax border policies of Joe Biden. After breaking and entering into our homeland, he was subsequently arrested in New York City for endangering a child and also apprehended for shoplifting in Athens, Georgia.

Such additional crimes after entering America illegally clearly justify immediate expulsion, but Ibarra was never remanded to ICE for deportation from the United States. Both of those cities claim status as so-called “sanctuary cities,” which do not cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement agencies.

Reacting to this shocking crime against his innocent young daughter, Laken’s father, Jason Riley, stated: “I stand before you, a heartbroken man… God gave me a beautiful daughter to father, protect, provide for, and nurture. A man with an evil heart stole her life. He was in this country and in this state illegally.” Mr. Riley also begged political leaders to “protect citizens from this illegal invasion.”

Of course, our citizens cannot demand action to stop these senseless and preventable acts of violence if they are unaware of the crimes in the first place. Given the appalling nature of this ghastly crime and its direct connection to politics and border policy, one might expect widespread awareness of Laken’s tragedy.

But battleground state polling reveals a starkly different reality. While Laken’s story has been widely disseminated and understood on the political right, the broad public still knows little about this crime. This omission is, of course, very much by design.

Specifically, in the key swing state of Arizona, only 22% of likely voters report that they know “a great deal” about Laken’s tragic death. This poll was conducted for my populist laborers’ organization, the League of American Workers, by North Star Opinion Research using a 600 person survey that split evenly between Trump and Biden 2020 voters in Arizona.

The details of the poll on Laken’s homicide provide additional troubling insights. For example, only 13% of self-identified Democrats know “a great deal” about her death, and only 15% of Independents, vs. 36% of Republicans. This split points to an increasingly siloed news media. Many Americans only consume partisan news that fits a preconceived worldview.

But the media platforms themselves deserve considerable blame as well. This tragedy simply did not fit the narratives of the legacy corporate media platforms. Specifically, a young white woman killed by a dangerous illegal immigrant—that story received nothing more than perfunctory reporting from biased outlets that long ago shed any inkling of journalistic objectivity.

As a consequence, most independents and Democrats do not even know about this tragic tale of a totally preventable crime. For example, only 9% of undecided 2024 voters know a “great deal” about the case, while a whopping 42% know “nothing at all” about Laken’s murder.

So, those of us working to advance the America First agenda of populist nationalism must inform these voters about the reality of Biden’s open border. Thinking citizens, including independents and reasonable Democrats, will clearly recognize the intense dangers created by border lawlessness. This harsh reality must be consistently and persuasively conveyed to voters: Laken Riley would be alive today if Biden cared at all about enforcing America’s immigration laws.

Such persuasion efforts, by the way, do not exploit Laken’s death. In fact, we honor her memory by doing everything possible to prevent more such tragedies.

In addition, such arguments for street safety and border enforcement rest on solid political foundations, as Americans generally turn against Biden’s porous border. In this same battleground Arizona poll, only 6% of citizens rate the federal government’s job performance on the border as “very strong” vs. a majority of 52% who rate border management as “very weak.”

That disapproval crosses demographic boundaries as well. For instance, among the key Hispanic demographic of Arizona, only 36% of Latinos rate the government’s border job performance as “very” or “somewhat” strong. Contrary to media myth, Hispanic citizens of America are not soft on border issues.

Once properly informed of the true risks of uncontrolled immigration, all Americans will coalesce around the necessity of law-and-order at the border and on our country’s streets. This security agenda cuts across ethnic, racial, and partisan divides. Let’s honor Laken Riley and her family by making certain that killers like Jose Antonio Ibarra can never roam the streets of America again.

Steve Cortes is former senior advisor to President Trump, former commentator for Fox News and CNN, and president of the League of American Workers, a populist right pro-laborer advocacy group. 

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About Steve Cortes

Steve Cortes is the founder of the League of American Workers. He formerly served as a senior advisor to President Trump, and a broadcaster with Fox News, CNBC, and CNN.


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