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OPINION: Want to Secure Our Communities? Start With the Border

The horrific murder of Laken Riley in Georgia has hit a nerve for many Americans who are already concerned about the border crisis.

Jose Ibarra, a Venezuelan national who illegally crossed the southern border in September of 2022 has been charged with murdering 22-year-old Riley while she was out on a run. Any murder is a tragedy. But the murder of a U.S. citizen by an illegal immigrant shocks the conscience because it represents an unacceptable breakdown in law and order. Simply put, this murder was preventable, if only our government enforced all our immigration laws.

During his recent State of the Union Address, President Biden painted himself as a man ready to tackle border security on day one. If only he had. Then violent individuals like Ibarra would’ve been swiftly detained and removed. But because of our broken border and overwhelmed immigration courts, Ibarra was processed, released, and allowed to roam freely. And that put a dangerous individual in Laken Riley’s path.

But the people Border Patrol apprehends aren’t even our greatest concern.  Our border is so overwhelmed by migrants claiming humanitarian relief that our agents spend most of their time processing them. Border Patrol agents didn’t sign up to do asylum paperwork – they signed up to protect us.

And because they can’t, over 1.7 million southern border crossers have evaded apprehension since President Biden took office. We don’t know anything about these people except that they want to avoid detection. Are they all bad? Unlikely. Are some violent criminals? Almost certainly.

Securing our communities starts at the border. This is the message that the Americans for Prosperity Foundation has articulated repeatedly during our numerous border trips and border security events hosted with state chapters of Americans for Prosperity. While the national narrative concentrates on border states, areas further from the U.S.-Mexico border need to understand the problem too. Without proper border security every town becomes a border town, every state becomes a border state.

How do we secure the border? Tucson Sector Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin said it best in his interview for a recent Congressional report:

“[W]hat I’ve seen in my career is that we always need that combination of things. You’ve probably heard me talk quite a bit about technology, infrastructure, and personnel. And so nothing by itself works. The personnel by itself, there will never be enough of us to do this. A border wall system by itself won’t work. The technology, you have to have– somebody put hands on somebody.” (emphasis added)

Border walls are effective in urban areas where crossers can vanish in seconds. On the other hand, walls aren’t particularly helpful in a remote area, like Big Bend National Park, where it might take days to reach the nearest highway or city. There, technology like drones and sensors to detect illegal migrant activity is crucial.

Something that is often lost when we talk about the border wall is that it isn’t a stand-alone entity. It was part of a system based on Border Patrol’s requirements. It comes with high-powered lights, motion sensors, and long-range cameras. That’s what made Biden’s abrupt cancellation of Trump’s border wall so damaging. Border Patrol wasn’t merely losing a wall; they were also losing other tools to apprehend illegal crossers.

Walls and technology, while very important, have, of course, never made an apprehension. That’s why you’ll always need personnel. But it’s been difficult to hire, and even more difficult to retain good personnel. After peaking at 21,444 in FY 2011, the number of Border Patrol agents dropped to 19,536 in FY 2021. Enticing and retaining personnel is difficult because of the isolated work locations, negative public perception of Border Patrol agents, and because those with higher degrees can find more lucrative work in other occupations.

A strong border is not a panacea to all that ails this great country, but it’s necessary for a stronger and safer U.S.

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DelVal Dems Reject Bipartisan ‘Laken Riley Act’

On Thursday, the U.S. House passed the Laken Riley Act, a bill named for a young Georgia student who was killed while jogging on campus, allegedly by an illegal immigrant.

The bipartisan bill passed 251-170, with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery) voting for it and all three Delaware Valley Democratic congresswomen –Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean and Chrissy Houlahan—voting against it. All the no votes came from Democrats; 37 other Democrats voted for the measure.

“Congress must do everything it can to prevent another parent from losing his or her child,” Fitzpatrick told DVJournal. “Laken Riley’s death never would have occurred if our borders were properly secured and immigration laws enforced. I will continue to work in a bipartisan way to find a solution to protect our borders.”

Scanlon, Dean, and Houlahan did not respond to requests for comment.

The bill would require that any illegal immigrant who committed burglary, larceny, shoplifting, or theft be detained.

The murder of the 22-year-old nursing student, allegedly by an illegal immigrant, on the University of Georgia campus shocked the country.

Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan who came to the U.S. illegally, was charged with her murder.

Congressman Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) posted on social media, “Laken Riley was murdered in cold blood by Jose Ibarra – an illegal alien who had committed previous crimes in NY. This NEVER should have happened & today, we voted to to ensure ALL criminal illegals like Ibarra will be arrested & detained. 170 Democrats STILL voted against this.”

Along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) taking the immigrants charged with crimes into custody, the act allows state attorneys general to litigate against Homeland Security to enforce the removal requirements in the act.

The resolution was introduced by Georgia Rep. Mike Collins (R).

“While we can’t bring Laken back, we must now turn our focus to doing everything we can to prevent this from happening to another American,” Collins said in a statement. Collins had invited Riley’s parents to come to the State of the Union with him, but they declined.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said on social media, “170 House Democrats just voted against the Laken Riley Act, refusing to require the detention and deportation of illegal immigrants who have been caught committing a crime. Sadly, if these Democrats have their way, there will be more victims like Laken Riley.”

Also, on social media, Johnson said, “The Laken Riley Act is so important because we’ve got to ensure that this can’t happen again. Republicans will not stand for the release of dangerous criminals into our communities, and that’s exactly what the Biden administration has done. Laken is just one of the tragic examples of innocent American citizens who have lost their lives and been brutally and violently attacked by illegal criminals who are roaming our streets because they’ve allowed them in.

Republicans have called on President Joe Biden to mention Riley in his State of the Union speech.

He did mention her, briefly, in his remarks.

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Conservative Group Running Ads During SOTU Targeting Immigration

President Joe Biden will try to paint a rosy picture of the country and his policies in the State of the Union address Thursday night, with an eye toward reelection. But opponents are taking aim at a major policy weakness: illegal immigration.

The conservative nonprofit Building America’s Future announced it will bracket the State of the Union with a $700,000 television buy, including two different commercials that hammer Biden on immigration. The ads will air nationally and in key markets in battleground states across the country, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In “Run,” Building America’s Future pins the blame for Laken Riley’s brutal murder by a previously arrested illegal immigrant on Biden’s refusal to deport illegal immigrants who were arrested by local police.


“Run” Transcript: “Laken Riley should have been able to go on a run in broad daylight without being murdered by an illegal immigrant. But Joe Biden promised not to deport illegal immigrants.

HOST: Should that person be deported?

BIDEN: That person should not be the focus of deportation

Biden vowed not to detain illegal immigrants who cross the border.

BIDEN: No one. No one would be put in jail while waiting for their hearing. 

So when Jose Ibarra crossed into America illegally, he was not deported; he was not put in jail. Biden also supported sanctuary cities.

HOST: Should undocumented immigrants arrested by local police be turned over to immigration officials?


So when Jose Ibarra was arrested in New York City for endangering a child, he was freed a second time; Ibarra went to Georgia, where he beat Laken Riley to death. How many more killers has Biden set free?”

Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist and CEO of Quantum Communications, says he thinks illegal immigration will be a major issue in this year’s presidential election.

“Border security is the number one issue in the minds of voters, and Biden and his administration have no excuse for their multiple failures,” said Gerow.

The new ad follows a recent survey from The Tyson Group showing immigration is a top motivator for Republican voters, who overwhelmingly oppose the weak on immigration policies that led to Riley’s murder.

The Tyson Group survey found:

  • Eighty-one percent of likely GOP primary voters said stopping illegal immigration is a very important issue for them when deciding who to support for president, second only to improving the economy at 83 percent.
  • Seventy-five percent of likely GOP primary voters would be less likely to vote for an elected official who has supported weak immigration enforcement legislation. (laws that prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE).



In “Health Care for Illegal Immigrants,” BAF highlights the dangers of the 340B program being used to provide health care to illegal immigrants.

The new spot comes after Virginia’s legislature recently passed a bill strengthening the 340B program in that state. Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office signaled Monday he might veto the measure because “he is deeply concerned about the federal 340b program and how it could be exploited to provide taxpayer-subsidized healthcare to illegal immigrants.

“Healthcare for Illegal Immigrants” Transcript: “The border is broken. Millions illegally pouring into our country. But it’s not just the border. Your tax dollars are at work for illegal immigrants. The more we look, the more we find…Our police are under assault. Free credit cards for illegals and free health care? They’re using a program currently under investigation called 340b to launder your money and provide free healthcare for illegal immigrants. The more we look, the more we find…We need Republicans to stand up for us.”

However, Maureen Testoni, President and CEO of 340B Health rejected the ad’s description of the program.

“The 340B program does not rely on taxpayer funds and so the claim that somehow federal taxpayer money is being ‘laundered’ to provide free healthcare to illegal immigrants is patently false,” Testoni said in a statement. “What is more, by using the word ‘launder,’ which the dictionary defines as ‘to transfer (illegally obtained money or investments) through an outside party to conceal the true source,’ the ad is deceiving viewers into wrongly believing that the 340B program is being used for illegal purposes. There is absolutely no support for this salacious allegation of criminal activity.”

Jeff Jubelirer, with Bellevue Communications, said he believes all voters are concerned with immigration.

“The issue of immigration is top of mind for voters,” said Jubelirer. That’s why both Biden and Trump recently went to the border and addressed the matter in person with dueling visits. It’s also why substantive immigration reform legislation has been drafted, although with Trump opposing the recent bipartisan effort, it failed to pass.

“Immigration is not a Republican or Democrat issue; it’s an American issue. Every issue these days – it seems – is viewed with such partisan lenses, and at this time, with months to go until the general election, I don’t sense the ads will have much impact. It will only serve to reinforce existing views,” he added.

On. Feb. 13, the Republican-controlled U.S. House voted to start impeachment proceedings against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkes. Some 7.2 million illegal immigrants have crossed the border since Biden took office and halted former President Donald Trump’s tough border control policies.

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