Democrats who favor Biden to Trump are offended by his reference to ‘an illegal’.

Miami — Some allies were disappointed and angry with President Joe Biden on Friday for dubbing the suspect in the Georgia nursing student murder a “illegal” during his State of the Union speech. He was favored by Democrats on immigration concerns over former President Donald Trump, his likely November opponent.

Biden encouraged Republicans to adopt a bipartisan border security package that crashed after Trump opposed it. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Trump loyalist, then shouted at the president to identify Laken Riley, the Georgia lady killed last month, adding she was killed “by an illegal.” Biden promptly replied, “By an illegal, that's right,” before asking how many “legals” are killing people.

Once customary, calling illegal immigrants “illegals” is now rare, especially among Democrats who supported immigrant rights during Trump's presidency.

Biden campaigned four years ago against many of Trump's immigration policies and changing official guidelines to stop using the term "illegal aliens," but he is now pushing for new border restrictions as record numbers of people cross the U.S.-Mexico border, straining federal authorities and Democratic-run cities forced to open emergency shelters. In Thursday's address, Biden repeated Trump's claim that he would “shut down the border” if given power.

His campaign claimed Friday that the event will not hurt his efforts to reach Latino and other Democratic base voters of color. Despite criticizing his tenure, several Capitol Hill allies supported him. “It was an unfortunate choice of words, but I think he could easily correct it,” said Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. "I think his inclusive immigration vision was exactly what I was looking for."

According to César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, chair of civil rights and civil liberties at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Biden's usage of the term was both a spontaneous remark and a reflection of his long tenure in office and recent immigration stance.

According to García Hernández, the president's use of such language in politics is revealing and reflects the administration's shift towards right-wing immigration policies, which aim to outmaneuver Republicans and use Republican language. Progressive Democratic lawmakers were dissatisfied by Biden's tenure.

“Just like we should not be implementing Republican policy, we should not be repeating Republican rhetoric,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass, who had never heard the president use the word. Rep. Joaquin Castro wrote on Twitter that President Biden's speech tonight was perilously close to Trump's language that targets Latinos everywhere.

Castro saw “a lot of good” in Biden's address but labeled his immigration remarks “incendiary and wrong.” Others were willing to excuse Biden's phrase use. Congressional Hispanic Caucus leader Rep. Nanette Barragán of California said, “This is what happens when you engage with the boneheads.”

Greene said Democrats were “melting down.” Republicans rejoiced. As he left for a campaign trip to Philadelphia, a journalist asked Biden if he regretted using “illegal.” He hesitated, saying “well I probably,” then said “I don’t” and appeared to utter “regret.” Then he paused again and stated, “Technically not supposed to be here.”