Biden Says He Regrets Calling Alleged Murderer an 'Illegal'

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address during a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol on March 07, 2024 in Washington, DC. This is Biden’s last State of the Union address before the general election this coming November.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
March 11, 2024

President Joe Biden said he regretted calling Laken Riley's alleged murderer an "illegal" during his State of the Union address in an interview that aired Saturday.

"I shouldn't have used 'illegal.' It's 'undocumented,'" Biden told MSNBC's Jonathan Capehart. "And look, when I spoke about the difference between Trump and me, one of the things I talked about on the border is the way he talks about 'vermin,' the way he talks about these people 'polluting the blood.' I talked about what I'm not gonna do, what I won't do. I'm not gonna treat any of these people with disrespect."

Biden responded with a "yes" when Capehart asked him directly if he regretted using the word.

"Lincoln [sic] Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That’s right," Biden said in his Thursday night address, referring to Laken Riley, a 22-year-old Georgia woman who authorities said was killed by a Venezuelan national who entered the country illegally.

Almost immediately after making the remark, Biden received pushback from fellow Democrats, such as Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas), who said the president used "dangerous rhetoric." Many who take progressive stances on immigration, including Biden's own administration, have argued that people should avoid the term. "Conflating immigration status with criminality is racist and dehumanizing," the National Immigrant Justice Center said on X in response to Biden's use of the word.