Trump meets with Laken Riley’s parents before Georgia rally

ROME — Before Donald Trump addressed the crowd at his Rome rally, he met privately with the parents of Laken Riley, a Georgia nursing student whose killing has become a national flashpoint in the divisive immigration debate.

Trump has invoked Riley’s death to highlight his campaign promise to seal the U.S. border and crack down on illegal crossings. President Joe Biden counters that Republicans squandered the chance to pass a tough bipartisan border deal at Trump’s urging.

Authorities say Riley was beat to death while jogging on the University of Georgia’s campus. A Venezuelan native who entered the U.S. illegally in 2022 was charged with murder in her death.

Trump has called the suspect an “animal” and a “monster” and, along with many other Republicans, argued that Riley would still be alive if federal and local officials enforced tough immigration restrictions.

U.S. Rep. Mike Collins invited Riley’s parents to attend his State of the Union address, but they said they’d rather grieve privately. Pressed by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Biden acknowledged Riley’s death during the State of the Union this week, but appeared to mispronounce her name as “Lincoln.”

That drew a stinging rebuke by Riley’s mother, Allyson Phillips, who posted on social media: “Biden does not even KNOW my child’s name – it [sic] pathetic!”

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-14th district, speaks about slain nursing student Laken Riley as supporters hold signs with her photo at a rally for presidential candidate and former president Donald Trump in Rome on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Arvin Temkar /


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