Soon after it was reported that 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts had been allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant, the White House released a video advocating for President Donald Trump’s infamous border wall and hardline immigration agenda. “Mollie Tibbetts, an incredible young woman, is now permanently separated from her family. A person came in from Mexico illegally and killed her,” the president said, staring directly into the camera. He added: “We have the worst laws anywhere in the world … they are strictly pathetic. We need new immigration laws, we need new border laws.”
The brutal murder, Republicans hoped, would stir enough anger among conservative voters and prevent Democrats from sweeping the midterm elections. The president concluded his video message by telling Tibbetts’ loved ones the only thing he could say to them was “God bless you.” Turns out, the video posted on his personal Twitter account would be the only communication the grieving family would receive from the man who quickly jumped to politicize Tibbetts’ death.
In a new Washington Post report, Tibbetts’ mother Laura Calderwood said that President Trump never contacted the family to offer his condolences after her daughter’s death, even as he used the murder as a prop to push his immigration agenda. In the wake of Tibbetts’ murder, her father Rob Tibbetts defended the Latinx community and penned an op-ed pushing against the use of his daughter as a pawn in the immigration debate. (The myth that immigrants, but specifically unauthorized ones, are hardened criminals has been debunked over and over again.) Calderwood wholeheartedly agrees. She told the Post that she hated hearing Tibbetts’ name come out of Trump’s mouth because his beliefs go against her daughter’s, who would had “wanted to welcome all immigrants who needed help.” After the murder, Calderwood honored her daughter’s ideals by taking in the teenage son of Mexican immigrants who fled the community amid increased tension after the crime.
Tibbetts was a rising sophomore at the University of Iowa and was last seen jogging in her hometown of Brooklyn, IA in mid-July. Her body was found in a cornfield in late August. Authorities charged Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant and local farmhand, with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty.
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