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Following the arrest of an undocumented immigrant accused of killing college student Mollie Tibbetts, Republican lawmakers are blaming immigration policies, and a lack of border security, for this murder.
Tibbetts, 20, who vanished on July 18, was found dead Tuesday in a cornfield in Iowa. She was last seen more than five weeks ago while jogging in Brooklyn, Iowa. Police have charged the suspect, 24- year-old Christhian Bahena Rivera, with first-degree murder. According to authorities, Rivera got out of his car, began to chase Tibbetts on foot before he “blacked out;” ultimately killing her and hiding her body in the middle of a cornfield.
RIP beautiful Mollie Tibbetts 🙏🏼
— Lucy Hale (@lucyhale) August 22, 2018
The motive as to why Rivera killed Tibbetts is still unclear, and there are still many more questions to be answered, but a fierce online debate on the national immigration law has already begun.
Prayers for Tibbetts family & all who knew & loved Mollie. Lots of questions—where did this illegal alien work? what was his work status—but one thing is sure: Mollie would be alive if our government had taken immigration enforcement seriously years ago. https://t.co/JScrv7aD5P
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) August 21, 2018
For 34 days, investigators searched for 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. Yesterday, an illegal alien, now charged with first-degree murder, led police to the cornfield where her body was found.
The Tibbetts family has been permanently separated. They are not alone. pic.twitter.com/BBskwHEJoU
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 22, 2018
But many others say the story is being skewed across media to promote anti-immigrant beliefs. Many Conservative and Republican people online are claiming Mollie Tibbett’s death is a result of illegal immigration rather than the result of Rivera’s actions. This is causing a huge debate online, so big that even Mollie Tibbett’s family has responded.
hey i’m a member of mollie’s family and we are not so fucking small-minded that we generalize a whole population based on some bad individuals. now stop being a fucking snake and using my cousins death as political propaganda. take her name out of your mouth. https://t.co/xxZNBF0Uv9
— sam (@samlucasss) August 22, 2018
This is a cycle we’ve seen before: when someone is killed by an undocumented immigrant, liberals and conservatives start playing this blame game. The GOP often uses these incidents to promote anti-immigration laws, while liberals usually blame the murderer. A similar conversation was had for the 2015 murder of Kate Steinle. Trump used Steinle’s death in San Francisco as an argument against sanctuary cities and immigration. Now, people are using Tibbett’s death to say all immigrants are the same. One Twitter user pointed out the problem with generalizing:
where was the energy white americans have for Mollie Tibbetts when george zimmerman killed an innocent teenager? or when brock turner raped an innocent young college student. oh thats right, cause the perpetrators didnt fit your agendas.
— Jess (@girldatlikebear) August 22, 2018
There’s also more than one lens through which to view the case.
Mollie Tibbetts was not killed because of the inherent wickedness of immigrants.
She was killed because a man felt entitled to her & she said no.
It happens all the time. It knows no age or race.
I'm sure people will start clutching their televised pearls over that any time.
— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) August 22, 2018
Not to mention a dark irony: the accused, who passed an E-Verify test which is often used by farms to confirm the documentation status of workers, worked on a farm owned by the family of a prominent member of Iowa’s Republican Party.