The family of murdered Iowa college girl Mollie Tibbetts has asked politicians and the media to stop using her killing to push a “racist, false narrative” about immigration.
“Mollie Tibbetts cousin: Stop using her death to push “racist, false narrative” on immigration.”
— The Hill (@thehill) August 28, 2018
“No, no and no,” Mollie’s cousin, Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, posted on Facebook Friday. “Especially for those of you who did not know her in life, you do not get to usurp Mollie and her legacy for your racist, false narrative now that she is no longer with us. We hereby reclaim our Mollie.”
After Tibbetts’s body was discovered last week it didn’t take long for authorities to name a suspect: an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who had been living and working in Iowa for four years. As a result, her death has become a hot topic on the campaign trail, especially those who want to use the killing to promote their own anti-immigrant political agenda.
Apparently the 24-year-old suspect police arrested, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, is a Mexican national who was in the country illegally. And now many Republicans, from President Trump on down, are using Mollie’s death to advocate for harsher immigration laws.
But Tibbetts family members don’t agree with this approach. During the eulogy at her funeral, Mollie’s father, Rob Tibbetts, spoke about his positive feelings for the local Hispanic community.
“The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans,” he said, according to the Des Moines Register. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.”
The line drew applause from the crowd of more than 1,000 at the funeral. Tibbetts also said that during the six weeks he spent in Iowa helping with the search for his daughter, he ate at many Mexican restaurants.
Tibbetts’ comments greatly contrast with the intense political debate about immigration that arose after Mollie’s death. Substantial amounts of research has shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.
Last week, Tibbetts’ aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, released a statement that asked people to remember that “Evil comes in EVERY color.”
Rob Tibbetts, meanwhile, asked mourners to celebrate his daughter.
“Today, we need to turn the page. We’re at the end of a long ordeal,” he said. “But we need to turn toward life — Mollie’s life — because Mollie’s nobody’s victim. Mollie’s my hero.”
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.