Jim Banks, a Republican representative for Indiana, says that President Biden should mention Laken Riley during his State of the Union address. Riley was found dead in February, the victim of a crime perpetrated by an illegal immigrant. Why does Banks want Biden to address this? Let’s see.

What’s a State Of The Union Address?

A State of the Union address is an annual message delivered by the President of the United States to a joint session of Congress. It’s typically given in late January or early February.

Source: Flickr/ Scott Adams

It outlines the nation’s current condition, reports on the president’s policy agenda, and lays out its legislative priorities and proposals for the upcoming year.

A Late State of the Union Address

Biden is slated to deliver the State of the Union address much later this year than in previous years. Typically, the address occurs much earlier than the March 7th scheduled date for 2024.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

The GOP had floated the idea of denying the president his State of the Union address. The idea has persisted through several presidents but has not yet happened.

Enshrined In the Constitution

Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution states that the president should address Congress from time to time and seek their input on matters he deems worthy of their concern.

Source: Flickr/ Ian Koski

Biden’s March delivery is late by historical measures, but he also delivered the State of the Union address in 2022 in March. As late as 1934, the addresses were delivered in December.

Why Is Laken Riley Important?

Riley was a 22-year-old student at the Augusta University College of Nursing. Jose Antonio Ibarra was caught and convicted of murdering the young woman.

Source: Flickr/ Clevergrrl

According to authorities, Ibarra entered the US illegally and was residing in the country without permission. The GOP sees this as a failure of the Biden administration to control illegal immigration.

Undocumented Immigrants Have Been Highlighted

Republicans have long looked at illegal immigrant crimes to prove their position on controlling the border. Many Republican governors of border states have begged the Biden administration for help in funding border control.

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The Biden administration seems content to let immigration, both legal and illegal, continue the same way it always has. The administration has also taken measures to protect illegal immigrants from deportation.

Asking For a Public Address

Riley has become a symbol of everything wrong with the Biden administration’s approach to immigration. By asking Biden to address her death, they want him to show he understands her importance.

Source: Flickr/ A C Moraes

Banks’ call for Biden to address her in the upcoming State of the Union address is meant to acknowledge the loss of the young woman’s life and how unacceptable it is for all parties.

Asking For Trump-Era Immigration Policies

Elsewhere in the letter Banks sent to Biden is a request for the administration to reinstate Trump-era immigration policies. These include the deportation of illegal immigrants and stricter border checks.

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The Biden administration has been rolling back many of the immigration changes the Trump administration made. Immigration control doesn’t seem to be a critical topic for discussion.

Teasing Border Control Reform

Biden’s camp called out Republicans for not supporting a bill that would have brought about sweeping border control reform. The bill would have been the most comprehensive change in decades.

Source: Flickr/ U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos

Yet the GOP members who denied the bill were wary about it because it came alongside provisions for specific causes they didn’t support. Similar legislation didn’t pass because Republicans disagreed with the other provisions in those bills.

Heaping The Good With the Bad

Republican representatives from border states have been campaigning to get funding for their border control efforts ever since the start of the Bidan administration, with mixed results.

Source: Flickr/ Tool Dude8mm

Legislation that would give them funding and reform the border control situation usually comes coupled with war funding for US allies in causes that Republicans don’t support on principle.

Massive Migration Over a Porous Border

Authorities estimate that over 300,000 illegal immigrants were intercepted trying to cross the southern border in December of 2023. These numbers are a lot more than in previous years.

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Immigrants from the Caribbean, Haiti, South America, and Cuba have made up most of these migrants. The numbers represent those that were caught, and no one is sure how many others were not.

An Increasing Crime Problem

The GOP is concerned with immigration because it could represent an increase in crime. The prevailing wisdom is that the illegal immigrants who enter the country may be criminals in their home territories.

Source: Flickr/Travis Wise

Former President Donald Trump underlined the GOP position on illegal immigration by stating that the people who came across from Mexico were “bad hombres.”

Democrats Think Republicans Are Exaggerating

Biden and many Democrat representatives believe that Republicans are making a mountain out of a molehill regarding illegal immigration. While it is a problem, it’s not as big a crisis as they make it out to be.

Source: Flickr/ Terry Ross

Yet US Customs and Border Patrol states that the influx of illegal immigrants has far surpassed the amount that they usually handle. It has become a serious problem along the southern border.

State Of The Union Address Should Highlight Problems

One of the goals of the State of the Union Address is to highlight issues that the president thinks Congress should know are happening, such as a potential border crisis.

Source: Flickr/ Speaker John Boehner

Banks believes Biden should let the country know what’s going along the southern border. The GOP wants Riley’s story to be more public knowledge than it already is, to shame the Biden administration into doing something.

Not An Easy Solution

There’s no easy solution here for the Biden administration. If they decide to acknowledge Riley’s death, it highlights the shortcomings of the current border policy and forces them to look at ways to change it. However, the alternative is just as unpalatable.

Source: Flickr/Thomas Hawk

Congress is deadlocked about sending aid to the country’s allies fighting their own wars internationally. Without the support of the GOP representatives, assistance may not be coming from the US anytime soon. It’s a high-stakes game of chicken, with a lot on the line.