FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Mollie Tibbetts’ Death Should Not Be Used as an Anti-Immigration Talking Point

The ongoing search for Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old college student from Brooklyn, Iowa who went missing in July, came to a devastating end on August 21 when police found her body in a cornfield. Authorities charged 24-year-old undocumented immigrant Cristhian Rivera with her murder.

Tibbetts’ case—and other past cases like it— easily capture the attention of the American public. Mollie Tibbetts was a white, beautiful, young college student who was taken from a sleepy, rural town that could be a stand-in for a number of small American towns

For weeks, Tibbetts’ bubbly, smiling face was scattered across social media feeds as her search reached desperate levels. For many of us, she seemed like someone we knew – a young girl who loved running, Harry Potter, and her family Perhaps she reminded you of your daughter, sister or friend.  Having recently graduated college myself, I couldn’t help but relate to Tibbetts. She seemed like someone I would have been friends. When I heard about her death, I was hurt but took solace knowing that Tibbetts’ family could shrink away from the spotlight and grieve in peace now that the grueling search was over.

Yet her family was not treated with such decency.

Hours after authorities charged Cristhian Bahena Rivera—an illegal immigrant—with first-degree murder for the death of Mollie Tibbetts, certain right-wing news outlets like Fox News and Breitbart began spinning her story, turning her death into a rally cry for stronger border security and mass deportation of illegals. As the news cycle progressed, headlines became more fixated on the immigrant status of her killer than the loss of the young woman.

“Illegal immigration kills Americans,” conservative pundit Tomi Lahren said on Fox News. “It’s Mollie Tibbetts (today), and it could be your daughter, your sister, your friend tomorrow.”

Some in far-right circles on Twitter are trying to turn Tibbetts into a martyr for their anti-immigrant cause. President Trump was also quick to politicize her death, alluding to it during his rally in West Virginia:

“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly from Mexico, and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman,” Trump said. “It should’ve never happened. Illegally in our country. We’ve had a huge impact, but the laws are so bad, the immigration laws are such a disgrace.”

This is shameful. Not only is right-wing media exploiting the death of a young girl for its own interests, but even the president is peddling claims about immigrants that are false and have been proven so time and time again.

In 2013, Pew Research Center found that immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crimes compared to U.S.-born citizens. Similarly, in 2018, the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute concluded that at the incarceration rate for native-born Americans is 1.53 percent, compared to 0.85 percent for undocumented immigrants and 0.47 percent for legal immigrants.

And in Texas (the only state to keep record of the number of convictions of illegal immigrants for specific crimes), the rate of homicide  convictions per 100,000 illegal immigrants was 44 percent lower than  that of native-born Americans in 2016.

So unlike what Tomi Lahren would have you believe, immigrants are not more dangerous or more likely to be criminals than anyone else. They are actually less likely to end up behind bars compared to their native-born peers.

Yes, the death of Molly Tibbetts is awful—and yes, her killer may have been an illegal immigrant. But one atrocious crime committed at the hands of one illegal immigrant cannot and should not be used as proof that all immigrants dangerous. The truth is that most immigrants come here to create better lives for themselves, and they are usually not criminals who wish to do you harm.

What is most unfortunate about this story is that the death of Mollie Tibbetts is being reduced to a talking point in the immigration debate. Mollie Tibbetts should not be remembered for how she died or for who killed her, but for how she lived and who she was.

More articles by:

Kayla Stetzel is a recent college graduate and a Young Voices contributor. Follow her on Twitter at @KaylaStetzel.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
July 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
The Blob Fought the Squad, and the Squad Won
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
It Was Never Just About the Chat: Ruminations on a Puerto Rican Revolution.
Anthony DiMaggio
System Capture 2020: The Role of the Upper-Class in Shaping Democratic Primary Politics
Andrew Levine
South Carolina Speaks for Whom?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Big Man, Pig Man
Bruce E. Levine
The Groundbreaking Public Health Study That Should Change U.S. Society—But Won’t
Evaggelos Vallianatos
How the Trump Administration is Eviscerating the Federal Government
Pete Dolack
All Seemed Possible When the Sandinistas Took Power 40 years Ago
Ramzy Baroud
Who Killed Oscar and Valeria: The Inconvenient History of the Refugee Crisis
Ron Jacobs
Dancing with Dr. Benway
Joseph Natoli
Gaming the Climate
Marshall Auerback
The Numbers are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts are a Bust
Louisa Willcox
Wild Thoughts About the Wild Gallatin
Kenn Orphan
Stranger Things, Stranger Times
Mike Garrity
Environmentalists and Wilderness are Not the Timber Industry’s Big Problem
Helen Yaffe
Cuban Workers Celebrate Salary Rise From New Economic Measures
Brian Cloughley
What You Don’t Want to be in Trump’s America
David Underhill
The Inequality of Equal Pay
David Macaray
Adventures in Script-Writing
David Rosen
Say Goodbye to MAD, But Remember the Fight for Free Expression
Nick Pemberton
This Is Heaven!: A Journey to the Pearly Gates with Chuck Mertz
Binoy Kampmark
Spying on Julian Assange
Rose Ramirez – Dedrick Asante-Mohammad
A Trump Plan to Throw 50,000 Kids Out of Their Schools
David Bravo
Precinct or Neighborhood? How Barcelona Keeps Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Global Capital
Ralph Nader
Will Any Disgusted Republicans Challenge Trump in the Primaries?
Dave Lindorff
The BS about Medicare-for-All Has to Stop!
Arnold August
Why the Canadian Government is Bullying Venezuela
Tom Clifford
China and the Swine Flu Outbreak
Missy Comley Beattie
Highest Anxiety
Jill Richardson
Weapons of the Weak
Peter Certo
Washington vs. The Squad
Peter Bolton
Trump’s Own Background Reveals the True Motivation Behind Racist Tweets: Pure White Supremacy
Colin Todhunter
From Mad Cow Disease to Agrochemicals: Time to Put Public Need Ahead of Private Greed
Nozomi Hayase
In Crisis of Democracy, We All Must Become Julian Assange
Wim Laven
The Immoral Silence to the Destructive Xenophobia of “Just Leave”
Cecily Myart-Cruz
McDonald’s: Stop Exploiting Our Schools
Louis Proyect
Parallel Lives: Cheney and Ailes
David Yearsley
Big in the Bungalow of Believers
Ellen Taylor
The Northern Spotted Owls’ Tree-Sit
July 18, 2019
Timothy M. Gill
Bernie Sanders, Anti-Imperialism and Venezuela
W. T. Whitney
Cuba and a New Generation of Leaders Respond to U.S. Anti-People War
Jonathan Cook
How the Goliath of the Jerusalem Settler Movement Persuaded the World It’s Really David
William Hartung
Merger Mania: the Military-Industrial Complex on Steroids
John G. Russell
The Devolution Will Be Televised: Our Body-cam President
Judith Deutsch
Psychology Stories: Children
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail