Biden stuns Republicans by going on attack over border and addressing Laken Riley’s parents

President Joe Biden stunned Republicans during his State of the Union speech by going on the attack over the border and addressing Laken Riley’s parents directly.

Mr Biden was heckled during the speech by Georgia Republican Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene, who called on him to say the name of Ms Riley, a student murdered in Georgia, allegedly by an undocumented migrant.

Ms Greene was handing out Laken Riley pins ahead of the State of the Union even after the murdered student’s parents turned down an invitation to attend.

They declined an invitation from Rep Mike Collins, Republican of Georgia.

Ms Riley, 22, a nursing student, was allegedly murdered while jogging on the campus of the University of Georgia.

A 26-year-old man from Venezuela was later detained. Police have referred to it as a “crime of opportunity” and the man, Jose Ibarra, has been charged with felony murder, kidnapping, and false imprisonment.

President Joe Biden holds up a pin referring to murdered Georgia student Laken Riley while delivering his State of the Union address (EPA)
President Joe Biden holds up a pin referring to murdered Georgia student Laken Riley while delivering his State of the Union address (EPA)

Republicans have been using Ms Riley’s death to lambast the Biden administration’s border policies. The president used part of his speech on Thursday night to criticise Republicans for rejecting a bipartisan border security bill after former President Donald Trump came out against it.

“That bipartisan bill would hire 1,500 more security agents and officers, 100 more immigration judges, help tackle the backlog of two million cases,” Mr Biden said in a forceful address. “4,300 more asylum officers and new policy so they can resolve cases in six months instead of six years now.”

“A more high-tech drug detection machine to significantly increase the ability to screen and stop vehicles smuggling fentanyl into America ... killing thousands of children,” he added.

“I believe that given the opportunity for a majority in the House and Senate would endorse the bill ... But unfortunately, politics [has] derailed this bill so far. I'm told my predecessor called members of Congress in the Senate to demand they block the bill,” he said of Mr Trump.

On Thursday afternoon, the House passed the Laken Riley Act following its introduction by Mr Collins. The legislation requires the detention of any migrant committing burglary or theft.

Police have said that the suspect in Ms Riley’s death crossed the border illegally.

Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson has said that Ms Riley died from blunt force trauma to the head.

“Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal,” Mr Biden said in an unscripted moment as he picked up the pin handed to him by Ms Greene, at one point mispronouncing her first name as “Lincoln”.

“To her parents. I say my heart goes out to you, having lost children myself – I understand,” Mr Biden told Ms Riley’s parents. “But look if we change the dynamic at the border ... people pay the smugglers 8,000 bucks to get across the border because they know if they get ... into the country – It's six to eight years before they have a hearing. And it's worth taking the chance ... But if it's only six months, six weeks.”

“The idea is it's highly unlikely that people will pay that money and [go] all that way knowing that they'll be able to be kicked out quickly. I would respectfully suggest to my Republican friends ... to the American people – get this bill done. We need to act now,” he added.

While handing out the pins, Ms Greene told Fox News that “My district was fine with me calling him a liar last year,” adding that “I’ll decide in the moment” if she’ll make a similar outburst this year. She later decided Mr Biden was due for a heckling.