Trump campaign again draws Mollie Tibbetts’ name into immigration debate despite family’s objections

President Donald Trump on Friday invoked slain Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts’ name in a campaign email blaming Democrats’ immigration policies for both her death and the recent deaths of an Iowa family.

Last year, Tibbetts’ father repeatedly said his daughter, whose disappearance and death captured the nation’s attention, was “vehemently opposed” to anti-immigrant causes.

The Republican president’s email, sent by the Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. committee, attacked Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa who, he said, “continue to ignore the murder in the room.”

“Missing from Democrats’ events is any sympathy or compassion for those killed or victimized by people who are in our country illegally,” according to the email.

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Trump’s campaign email cited both the 2018 arrest of an undocumented worker in the death of 20-year-old Tibbetts, and the arrest of another man — also undocumented — whom police allege killed a mother and her two children this week in Des Moines, Iowa.

Last year, Rob Tibbetts, Mollie Tibbetts’ father, made a public plea for “decency” from pundits and politicians.

“She may not be able to speak for herself, but I can and will,” Tibbetts said in a column he wrote for the Des Moines Register. “Please leave us out of your debate.”

Shortly after that plea, most politicians dropped the Tibbetts’ case from their rhetoric. But her name has again become part of the immigration debate.

On Thursday, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said a lack of immigration enforcement failed both Tibbetts and the slain Des Moines family of three.

“So now, we have three in the morgue in Des Moines today,” King said. “It’s a sad, sad day to commemorate the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts.”

Thursday marked one year since Tibbetts disappeared while jogging near her home in Brooklyn, Iowa. After a four-week search, her body was found in a cornfield in Poweshiek County. Police charged Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a farmworker who was in the country with a false ID, with her death.

By Des Moines Register staff for USA TODAY
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