Laken Riley’s Murder Showcases Vulnerable Senate Democrats’ Opposition to Kate’s Law

by BRADLEY JAYE 29 Feb 2024

Vulnerable Democrat Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jon Tester (D-MT) are facing criticism for their soft-on-crime voting record after the murder of Laken Riley.

Riley, a 22-year-old Augusta University nursing student killed allegedly by an illegal alien released into the United States, is the latest American woman to fall victim to the federal government’s inability to enforce immigration law.

The tragedy has cast renewed attention on the fate of Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old murdered in 2015 allegedly by a seven-time felon, five-time deported illegal alien, Jose Garcia Zarate. He was acquitted of murder but convicted for federal gun charges in association with the murder.

After Steinle’s murder, Republicans tried to prevent similar crimes from being committed by writing Kate’s Law, which would institute a mandatory minimum of five years imprisonment for deported felons who illegally re-enter the United States. Kate’s Law was included as a marquee provision in the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act, legislation which would also hold sanctuary jurisdictions accountable for defying federal law and provide liability protection for State and local law enforcement who cooperate with Federal law enforcement.

Kate Steinle (Photos via Facebook)

Sherrod, Tester and Casey each voted to block the bill in October of that year, sinking its chances of becoming law.

Republicans blasted Democrats for locking arms to kill the bill. “A vast majority of the American people oppose sanctuary cities that harbor dangerous criminals who are here illegally, and I’m disappointed that my colleagues blocked this sensible anti-crime bill from coming to the floor for a full debate and vote,” Sen. Senator Tillis (R-NC) said after the vote.

Brown saw things differently. In October 2015, he was quoted as saying Kate’s Law “would waste taxpayer money by increasing the prison population.”

Days after the vote, Bill O’Reilly blasted Democrats for opposing mandatory five-year prison terms for such individuals, singling out Brown for his comment despite the overwhelming number of illegal aliens committing crimes. “Nevertheless, Democrat Senators like crazy-left Sherrod Brown in Ohio oppose mandatory five-year prison terms for such individuals,” he told his viewers, “Brown saying, quote, to his constituency, ‘the mandatory minimum sentences established under this bill,’ Kate’s Law, ‘would waste taxpayer money by increasing the federal prison population.’

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Yeah, that’s right, senator, convicted aggravated felons who defy deportation would wind up in prison under Kate’s Law instead of running around sanctuary cities like San Francisco selling drugs and shooting young women in the head,” O’Reilly continued. “Brown is a disgrace. How Ohioans ever elected him is a mystery of the universe.”

Some Democrat elected officials in Congress have begun recognizing the long record of failure of the Democrat Party, acknowledging the party has failed to prioritize the issue, even as it has consistently polled among the greatest concerns of American citizens.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) told Fox News that Riley’s death “is a failure of the sanctuary city policy,” and one of the “consequences of the failures going on at the border.” Moskowitz also stated that “Republicans have been talking about it the last couple of years and Democrats were a little late to the party.”

Thursday, with polling showing Democrats underwater on border security and immigration issues, President Joe Biden visited Brownsville, Texas, in a transparent attempt to bolster his thin border credentials that National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd called too little, too late.

“He had three years to do what he needed to do to secure the border. He had three years to put policies in place,” Judd said. “Now we’re only eight months from an election and now it looks like he’s interested, and he’s only interested in it because it’s self-serving and he wants to save himself.”

In a blistering Wednesday floor speech, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) blasted Biden and his party’s record on border security, attacking them for suddenly acting interested in the border after refusing to take action for years.

“He asked why we don’t have border policies,” Tuberville said of Biden. “Well hell man, you’ve been here forever. What did you do while you were in office? You did zero.”

Brown, Casey, and Tester, who are each seeking reelection for third terms in the Senate, overlapped in the Senate with Biden.

Ibarra, Riley’s accused murderer, first crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in September 2022 but was freed into the U.S. as part of President Joe Biden’s expansive catch and release network. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials cited a lack of detention space to keep him locked up.

According to DHS sources, Ibarra should have been deported from the U.S. in September 2023 when he was arrested in Queens, New York, for injuring a child under the age of 17. Instead of being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Ibarra was released from jail in conjunction with New York’s sanctuary city policy.