PolitiFact Covers Up Biden’s Role in the Murder of Laken Riley

By Published on March 18, 2024

The “fact checker” PolitiFact asserts that President Biden had nothing to do with the murder of a nursing student by an illegal border crosser because “Biden does not decide who is released into the country.”

In reality, the president has vast powers to decide who is allowed into the U.S., and the person charged with this murder was let in as a direct consequence of Biden’s actions.

This murder is not an isolated instance. Homicides committed by non-citizens are hundreds of times more common than other types of murders that media outlets often focus on.

Biden’s Actions

During the Republican Party’s formal response to Biden’s recent State of the Union address, U.S. Senator Katie Britt of Alabama blamed “President Biden’s senseless border policies” for “horrific murders” and spoke about this recent one:

“Just think about Laken Riley. In my neighboring state of Georgia, this beautiful 22-year-old nursing student went out on a jog one morning. But she never got the opportunity to return home. She was brutally murdered by one of the millions of illegal border crossers President Biden chose to release into our homeland.”

Countering Britt, PolitiFact reporters Marta Campabadal Graus and Maria Ramirez Uribe claim that:

Biden does not decide who is released into the country. Border officials decide whom to release into the U.S. because they lack enough resources to detain everyone who illegally crosses U.S. borders.

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PolitiFact’s statement — made without any evidence to support it — is a flagrant falsehood disproven by the following facts:

  • Border officials work for the Department of Homeland Security, which is under the authority of Biden and the person he appointed to lead this agency, Alejandro Mayorkas.
  • On his first day in office, Biden temporarily suspended President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy (formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols), which required border officials to quickly eject the vast bulk of Central Americans who illegally cross the U.S./Mexico border. Any of these migrants who claimed to have a legal basis to be in the U.S. could then wait in Mexico while their cases were adjudicated — instead of being released into the U.S. where deportation is extremely unlikely.
  • Four months later, Mayorkas permanently terminated Remain in Mexico to the cheers of “migrant-rights advocates” who called this “a huge victory” and welcomed the illegal border crossers into the U.S. with literal hugs.
  • After a federal judge and a federal appeals court ordered the Biden administration to reinstate Remain in Mexico, the Supreme Court issued a 5–4 ruling in June 2022 that allowed Biden to end it.
  • Three months later in September 2022, a Venezuelan migrant named Jose Ibarra illegally crossed the U.S./Mexico border, was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol, and was released into the U.S. — an action generally prohibited under Remain in Mexico.
  • A year and a half later, Ibarra was arrested for the murder of Riley.

The Big Picture

Because the U.S. is the third-most populous nation in the world and experiences more than 15,000 homicides per year, there is no shortage of murders to serve the agendas of people who use isolated incidents for political purposes.

A prime example is the fact that an average of two on-duty police officers per year commit murder. Although these cases amount to 0.01 percent of all homicides in the nation, the media and activists often use them to accuse the entire U.S. of systemic racism.

In stark contrast, murders committed by immigrants occur hundreds of times more frequently. A 2018 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that non-citizens in U.S. prisons and jails from 2010 to 2016 had been arrested or transferred 33,300 times for homicides committed in the U.S. during 1964–2017. This is an average of 611 murder arrests or transfers per year.

The figure of 33,000 double-counts some murders because the “data did not allow” the study to “distinguish between a new arrest and a transfer from one agency to another.” However, the study failed to count many other homicides because:

  • it didn’t examine the criminal records of non-citizens arrested for murder who weren’t incarcerated in 2010 to 2016, thus ignoring all murderers who had served out their sentences or died before then.
  • there “are no reliable population data on all criminal aliens in every U.S. state prison and local jail.”
  • roughly half of all murders in the U.S. don’t result in an arrest, and this figure is significantly lower for murders committed by minorities.

Like most government data on crimes committed by immigrants, the study grouped all non-citizens into a single category, including those who entered the U.S. both illegally and legally. Thus, not all of the murders were committed by illegal border crossers, but the vast bulk of them almost certainly were. This because legal immigrants are heavily screened for criminality and commit crimes at far lower rates than the general public.

PolitiFact’s Track Record

Beyond declaring that Biden had no role in the murder of Laken Riley, PolitiFact has a history of spreading falsehoods about wide-ranging issues, such as:

PolitiFact employs a wide variety of fallacies to support its conclusions, such as quoting sources out of context, cherry-picking, using double standards, misdefining terms, and making patently false statements without evidence to support them.

However, they all share a common feature in that they mangle the truth in ways that advance leftist narratives. This creates support and provides cover for politicians and policies that get people killed, like Joe Biden’s role in the murder of Laken Riley.


James D. Agresti is the president of Just Facts, a research and educational institute dedicated to publishing facts about public policies and teaching research skills.

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