Author: Natalie Evans
Friends and family of murdered student Mollie Tibbetts have hit out at Donald Trump and those using her death for ‘political propaganda’.
The arrest of an illegal immigrant on suspicion of murdering the 20-year-old has thrust the case into the US debate on immigration policy.
Christhian Rivera, 24, was arrested and charged on Monday with the murder of Iowa student Mollie, who disappeared in July while out jogging.
A woman’s body has been found but has not yet been positively identified, authorities have said.
Law enforcement officials said Rivera was Mexican and in the country illegally. However, his defence lawyer said in a court filing on Wednesday that Rivera had legal status.
Trump was quick to blame Mollie’s death on weak immigration laws, arguing the need for a border wall with Mexico.
In a video posted on Twitter on Wednesday night, Trump likened the Iowa student’s murder to young immigrant children being separated from their families.
The president said: “Mollie Tibbetts, an incredible young woman, is now permanently separate from her family.
“A person came in, from Mexico, illegally and killed her.
“We need the wall. We need our immigration laws changed, we need our border laws changed.”
Trump, who has taken a tough stance on immigration and referred to some Mexican migrants as criminals and rapists in his 2016 election campaign, also made a reference to the Tibbetts case at a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday.
“Should never have happened,” said Trump. “The immigration laws are such a disgrace.”
But a member of Mollie’s family slammed those for politicising the youngster’s murder.
A woman named Sam, who said she is Mollie’s cousin, hit out at a Twitter user comparing family separation to the Tibbetts case.
She wrote: “I’m a member of Mollie’s family and we are not so f*****g small-minded that we generalize a whole population based on some bad individuals.
“Stop… using my cousins death as political propaganda. Take her name out of your mouth. (sic)”