• Rafael Romero, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, is scheduled to be arraigned today for the murder of 16-year-old Lizbeth Medina.
  • The murders of Medina and University of Georgia student Laken Riley are strikingly similar.
  • The Laken Riley Act introduced in congress this week would make help ICE catch illegal immigrants committing crimes.
  • Domestic policy won’t increase safety until the border security is restored.

Two weeks ago, Athens police discovered 22-year-old Laken Riley murdered on a jogging path behind the University of Georgia. Her brutal death captured national attention because her alleged killer, Athens-resident Jose Ibarra, entered the country illegally.

But Riley’s tragic death is part of a pattern.

Just four months ago, Jacqueline Medina discovered her 16-year-old daughter, Lizbeth, beaten and stabbed in the Texas apartment they shared.

Rafael Govea Romero, an illegal immigrant on parole for theft, was arrested and charged for Medina’s murder. The 24-year-old is scheduled to make his first court appearance today.

According to the indictment obtained by Fox News, police believe Romero stalked Medina before “intentionally [causing her] death while … attempting to commit a burglary, robbery or sexual assault.”

Medina’s body indicated her killer had “caused her ‘head to strike a firm surface,’ ‘struck’ her head ‘with a hard object’ and ‘repeatedly stabbed or cut’ her ‘with a sharp object or edged weapon.’”

One police officer’s account of the investigation paints a picture of an assailant looking to hurt someone:

[At the time of the investigation] I believed the suspect of this murder was at large and a present danger to the community. I was especially concerned that the person believed to be the murder suspect was texting other high school students, leading me to believe the suspect was targeting students. Furthermore, I believe the public was in danger due to the stalking-like behavior displayed by the subject via the potential connection of the [November] burglary [of Medina’s apartment] and driving through [her] apartment complex [a day before her murder.]

Medina and Riley shared much in common.

Both aspired to be nurses: Riley was studying nursing at the University of Georgia; Medina had recently been nominated for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence. Both were athletic — Medina a cheerleader and Riley a runner.

The girls’ similarities extend to their heart-wrenching deaths.

Riley was murdered on her daily run, and Medina was discovered after she missed a cheerleading event. Both died violently, and neither knew their alleged killers.

Most importantly, Lizbeth and Laken’s deaths were entirely preventable.

Part of the failure concerns the link between police and immigration authorities. When police arrest an illegal immigrant for a criminal offense, they can contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take custody of the offender for deportation — this process is called “lodging a detainer.”

“Detainers are an effective tool in keeping criminals out of local communities,” according to ICE, but they only work when police use them.

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission,” the website explains.

Texas police lodged a detainer on Romero after he allegedly killed Medina. It’s unclear why New York police failed to lodge a detainer on Ibarra after charging him with reckless endangerment of a child in 2023.

Police only issue detainers for criminal offenses, which means ICE isn’t contacted about illegal immigrants committing petty crimes like theft. Georgia Representative Mike Collins introduced H.R. 7511 — The Laken Riley Act — to change this policy. Collins told Fox:

More serious crime already require ICE to issue detainers, but had Athens, Georgia Police reached out to ICE about Jose Ibarra when he was cited for shoplifting, and ICE picked him up, Laken Riley would be alive.

If ICE had detained Rafael Romero after his theft charge, perhaps Lizbeth Medina would be alive, too. The Laken Riley Act could see a vote in the House as early as this week.

H.R. 7511 could help tighten-up domestic immigration enforcement if passed, but it won’t make citizens safer until America stops the virtually unchecked stream of people coming through the southern border.

In the first four months of this fiscal year alone, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents encountered 962,000 people entering the country illegally — more than the population of Denver.  CBP agents have encountered 4.8 million illegal immigrants since 2021, not including those expelled during the pandemic under Title 42.

Having overwhelmed border facilities, the government transports many of these illegal arrivals to destinations across the country. CBP documents unearthed by the Center for Immigration Studies say more than 320,000 illegal immigrants flew to 43 U.S. airports in 2023 — on the governments dime.

Our already stretched law enforcement system can’t adequately police this mind-boggling influx of people, just as cities can’t house and care for them.

Until something drastic changes, people charged with crimes will continue slipping through the cracks, and women like Lizbeth Medina and Laken Riley will continue paying the price.

Additional Articles and Resources:

Fentanyl Overdoses Rise, Connection to Illegal Immigration

Talking to Your Kids About Illegal Immigration

Familial DNA Testing on the Southern Border Shouldn’t Have Ended

The Border Crisis and the Deafening Silence of Women’s Groups