Laken Riley’s father ‘angry’ her death has been politicized

The father of slain nursing student Laken Riley doesn’t like his daughter’s death being exploited for political purposes.

“I feel like she’s being used somewhat politically,” Jason Riley told NBC’s “Today” show. “It makes me angry. She was much better than that.”

Police arrested Venezuelan citizen Jose Ibarra in connection with the 22-year-old student’s brutal death late last month. She was found unresponsive with visible blunt-force trauma injuries after not returning from a morning jog near the University of Georgia campus.

Ibarra, who was once arrested in New York over a vehicular charge that allegedly endangered a minor, entered the U.S. illegally in 2022. His detention further fueled the nation’s contentious debate on U.S. immigration laws.

Republican lawmakers have campaigned on that issue non-stop since Biden took office in 2020. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia wore a tee-shirt bearing Laken Riley’s name to the March 7 State of the Union address, where she also passed out matching pins and heckled President Joe Biden while he spoke.

Democrats have accused Republicans of sabotaging reform efforts to stop the president from scoring political points by passing useful legislation before the November election.

“I’d rather her not be such a political, how you say — it started a storm in our country,” Jason Riley said. “It’s incited a lot of people.”

He doesn’t know if his daughter would still be alive if immigration laws were different.

“We have no idea if that would’ve changed anything,” Jason Riley confessed. “He might not have been here had we had secure borders.”

Former president Donald Trump met with the victims’ mother and stepfather prior to a rally in Greene’s congressional district earlier this month. He’s said immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and claimed some are “animals.”

Biden said during his State of the Union speech — where he briefly engaged Green in an impromptu debate over immigration reform — that he “will not demonize immigrants.”

While high-profile crimes involving immigrants have fueled concerns about the nation becoming more dangerous. Some immigration advocates worry migrants may face increased danger at the hands of fearful citizens who buy into bad information and “scapegoating.”