Jose Ibarra is a Documented Illegal Immigrant


Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green had showed up to the State Of Union dressed in full MAGA regalia, daring the Sergeant-at-Arms to remove her from the chamber. She knew wearing the red Make America Great Again hat was a violation of House Rules on campaigning in the chamber, but as is the case with so many of our social norms, she did not care. On this night she made it apparent to all that she did not come to passively watch President Biden deliver his speech, but to be an active participant in the spectacle that she had planned to make of it.

When the President was announced to the chamber, MTG positioned herself in a way to be most conspicuous to him by going to the center aisle. She wanted, no, needed him to see her. Biden’s reaction upon seeing her was completely meme worthy; he looked like a grandpa who just opened the door to hand out Halloween candy to a group of trick-or-treaters. “Ohhhhhh! What do we have here? A Power Ranger? A Ninja Turtle? A Jedi? And a MAGA performance artist who got elected to Congress? Here, have a Snickers.” – More on Snickers in a minute.

As The President began his speech, he was forceful and clear as he read from the teleprompter. But the number of topics he had decided to tackle before he addressed the crisis at the border was disheartening for those who have been hurting over the loss of Laken Riley, a UGA nursing student who was murdered in broad daylight as she went for a run. Riley’s accused killer is a Venezuelan national named Jose Ibarra who crossed into the United States illegally at our southern border in 2022.

Biden led off his speech about Ukraine before mentioning NATO, January 6th, IVF, Abortion (with a threat to the Supreme Court Justices sprinkled in for good measure), COVID, jobs, and unions. At that point the Democrats in the chamber joined MTG in breaking rules of decorum of the House by breaking out in chants of, “four more years!” The President then went on to make a series of proposals including healthcare, housing, education, tax increases, social security, and yes, shrinking Snickers bars. The latter topic forced Mars, the manufacturer of Snickers, to refute Biden’s claim that they were putting 10% less of the candy bar in bags.

The speech went on, credit card late fees, and fees for online ticket sales to events. The list of priorities mentioned really did include junk fees charged by Stub Hub and Ticketmaster before the mention of the border crisis.

About 41 minutes into the speech, Biden finally addressed immigration by trying to pitch the recently failed border bill as a jobs program. By now, MTG had heard enough and began peppering Biden by yelling at him to, “SAY HER NAME! LAKEN RILEY!”

At that point the President went off script and began to stutter as he held up a button with Laken Riley’s name on it. “Lincoln, Lincoln Riley. An innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That’s right. But how many of thousands of people are being killed by legals?”

What? Moving on before my rage causes me to lose the plot.

He then turned to the gallery as if to address Riley’s parents if they were there, “To her parents I say my heart goes out to you having lost children myself. I understand.” Narrator: The Riley Family was not there.

Much has been made of how President Biden flubbed Laken’s name with that of the University of Southern California’s head football coach. You don’t need for me to rehash it or reinforce that when Biden is not on the teleprompter he is lost. The instance speaks for itself.

What is chapping my hide is what happened next. By Saturday, President Biden expressed regret for describing Ibarra as an illegal. In an interview with MSNBC, Biden told them, “I shouldn’t have used ‘illegal.’ It’s undocumented.”

With all due respect, no, sir. There is plenty of documentation about Jose Ibarra’s immigration status.

For example, we know that Ibarra crossed the border illegally in El Paso, Texas in September 2022. That’s documented. We know he was arrested and charged before being paroled. That’s documented. We know he was put on a bus to New York City after his parole. Documented. It is documented that he was arrested in New York City for endangering a 5 year old child for allowing them to ride on the back of a moped without a helmet. It is documented that NYPD released Ibarra before an ICE detainer could be obtained. More documentation on Ibarra was generated when he was arrested a month later in Athens for stealing from a local Walmart there. What’s also documented is that ICE is now claiming that they were not aware of Ibarra’s shoplifting charge until after Laken Riley was murdered. It was documented that his brother, also charged for shoplifting at Walmart and in the US illegally, was arrested by police in Athens for a DUI.

There is very little about Jose Ibarra that isn’t documented.

The only undocumented immigrants in this country are the ones who successfully cross the border undetected and have no interaction with law enforcement. It doesn’t make their presence in the U.S. any more legal. But that wasn’t the case with Ibarra because he couldn’t keep himself out of trouble and yet with every passing interaction with law enforcement he began to learn a very dark lesson; the laws in this country are a joke because they are not enforced in a way where there are any real consequences.

At every point along the way, with every documented instance, Laken Riley was being failed. So what could have prevented Laken Riley’s death is also well documented.

The President was right to call Ibarra an illegal, because it is documented that that is exactly what his status is. And while it it is not unexpected for Joe Biden to try to placate his base by expressing regret for using the term, “illegal,” it is still disappointing. Why can’t we just call something what it is? For a brief moment in the State of Union when President Biden decided to use his own words and not those fed to him, he did exactly that. He didn’t need to back away from something that is documented as truth. And I cannot imagine he has scored many points with that base for expressing regret when the White House made clear yesterday that he did not apologize for using the term.

I have hesitated to write this piece because there are people who always point out that talking politics in the wake of a tragedy demeans the tragedy. I get that. But we do ourselves no favors by ignoring how the system failed Laken Riley, and by extension all of us, by remaining silent about those failures. The solution to these failures can be found in solid policy and by making sure those in elected office are doing everything they can to prevent the preventable. That is the inevitable nature of politicizing the tragedy, but what other solutions are there if they are not found in the realm of the political?

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