Jocelyn Nungaray’s death fuels Trump-Biden immigration debate

The White House and the Biden campaign responded Friday to the death of a 12-year-old girl in Houston after two suspects charged with capital murder were found to be undocumented immigrants.

Jocelyn Nungaray was discovered Monday in a shallow creek after being strangled to death, according to Houston police.

A White House spokesperson said “our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Jocelyn Nungaray.”

“We cannot comment on active law enforcement cases,” the spokesperson continued. “But fundamentally, anyone found guilty of this type of heinous and shocking crime should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. »

Jocelyn Nungaray, 12 years old.Houston Police Department

Johan Jose Martinez-Rangel, 22, and Franklin Pena, 26, were arrested and charged with her murder. The suspects crossed the border illegally this year and were released into the United States by Border Patrol, according to immigration authorities.

Both men had immigration violation holds from Immigration and Customs Enforcement in their court records.

The White House’s response comes as immigration and border security have become a top issue for voters ahead of the November election. An NBC News poll from April found that 22% of registered voters said immigration and the situation at the border was the most important issue facing the country.

Former President Donald Trump blames Nungaray’s death on the Biden administration’s border policies. On Thursday, he said on Truth Social that “we have another Biden killing of migrants – it’s only going to get worse, and it’s all the fault of Twisted Joe Biden.”

The Biden campaign fought back, highlighting Trump’s role in failing to reach a bipartisan border deal in Congress.

“Donald Trump is making Americans less safe by blocking the border deal,” Biden campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said in a statement.

An NBC News review of municipal data from June shows that overall crime levels are falling in major cities that have received the most migrants from Texas, including Chicago, New York and Washington, DC.

Nungaray’s death is the latest alleged killing by migrants, which has led to political storms, even though studies have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S.-born citizens.

The man accused of Laken Riley’s murder, José Antonio Ibarra, had already been arrested after crossing the US border.

Trump invoked Riley’s death in his campaign for the White House, and Biden called Ibarra “illegal” during his State of the Union address, a term he later regretted using .

Trump also highlighted the case of Ruby Garcia, who was allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant. He said at a campaign event in April that he had spoken with Garcia’s family, a claim denied by Garcia’s sister.

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