The family of Mollie Tibbetts is not happy that Donald Trump and other Republicans are politicizing her death. The 20-year-old Iowa college student was murdered by an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. He had been working in Iowa for the past four years at a farm owned by a prominent Iowa Republican.
In Trump’s attacks he is completely ignoring the hundreds of thousands of victims of gun violence in this country, and also is ignoring the tragic slaughters of schoolchildren which have taken place because of the gun policies of his party and his donors like the NRA.
Samantha Lucas, Tibbetts’ second cousin, has been very outspoken, saying that Mollie would not want her death to be used as “fuel against undocumented immigrants.”
Finally a note of sanity has been introduced into the discussion taking place following the identification of the alleged murderer as an undocumented immigrant. The man charged with the crime is Cristhian Rivera, who was arrested and charged with murder on Tuesday.
Iowa Law enforcement officials have identified him as an “undocumented immigrant,” but his lawyer is saying that is not true.
After Rivera’s arrest, Trump spoke to a rally Tuesday night in West Virginia, where he called him an “illegal alien.”
“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly, from Mexico and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman,” Trump said. “Should’ve never happened. … The laws are so bad, the immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting it changed, but we have to get more Republicans.”
Lucas told CNN in an interview today that she knew her cousin well enough to think that “she would not want this to be used as fuel against undocumented immigrants.”
In the meantime conservative media outlets and people, along with many Republicans, have been using Mollie’s tragic death to gain political points. They have a history of lying and misrepresenting the truth concerning immigrants and the amount of crimes they commit. They do this to inflame the passions of their anti-immigrant supporters who in turn send them money and support their misguided political proposals. For example, Trump is using Mollie’s death to build public support for his misguided proposal to build a border wall with Mexico.
One typical right-wing response came from conservative commentator Candace Owens who tweeted:
“Leftists boycotted, screamed, and cried when illegal immigrants were temporarily separated from their parents. What will they do for Mollie Tibbetts? What did they do for Kate Steinle? They will NEVER see their parents again.”
After that, Lucas sent another tweet of her own, and asked that her cousin’s death not be used in political discourse. She wrote:
“Hey, I’m a member of Mollie’s family and we are not so f–king small-minded that we generalize a whole population based on some bad individuals. Now stop being a f–king snake and using my cousin’s death as political propaganda. Take her name out of your mouth.”
Tibbetts’ aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, also seemed to push back against Mollile’s death being discussed in the context of illegal immigration.
“I don’t want Mollie’s memory to get lost amongst politics,” Calderwood told CNN. “It’s not about race, it’s about people joining together to do good,” Calderwood said. “Evil comes in EVERY color.”
Tibbetts’s family issued a statement saying that they are grateful for the support they have received during their difficult time. The statement did not mention immigration.
Meanwhile the Des Moines Register reported that Allen Richards, the lawyer representing Rivera, filed a court document on Wednesday stating that his client was legally working in the United States.
In the court document, Richards accused the government of wrongly promoting that notion that Rivera was in the U.S. illegally and called Trump “sad and sorry.”
“Sad and sorry Trump has weighed in on this matter in national media which will poison the entire possible pool of jury members,” Richards wrote.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.