Mollie Tibbetts

The political debate about America’s immigration system has been re-ignited by the tragic death of the 20-year-old woman from Brooklyn who authorities say was murdered by a man living in the country illegally. President Trump mentioned the case last night during a 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. “Should have never happened.”

The 24-year-old accused of murdering Mollie Tibbetts had been living illegally in Poweshiek County for up to seven years, according to authorities. Governor Kim Reynolds issued a written statement late Tuesday afternoon, saying Iowans are “angry that a broken immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community.” The two Republicans who represent Iowa in the U.S. Senate released a joint statement. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst said: “too many Iowans have been lost at the hands of criminals who broke our immigration laws” and “we cannot allow these tragedies to continue.”

The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa addressed what he termed “anti-immigrant sentiment” following the arrest of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the 24-year-old accused of Mollie Tibbets’ death. Mark Stringer said it was “unfortunate that during a tragedy like this some people choose to polarize our communities and our state by politicizing the situation and emphasizing the immigration status of the person accused.” Stringer said “people of all races and levels of citizenship commit crimes.”

Two of Iowa’s congressmen made statements about the case on Twitter. Congressman Steve King, a harsh critic of any effort to grant citizenship to those living in the country illegally, said “justice must now be served,” but King did not mention Rivera’s immigration status. Congressman David Young tweeted that “Iowans and many more mourn together over the loss of Mollie Tibbetts.”

Fred Hubbell, the Democratic candidate for governor, issued a written statement, commending law enforcement for working “around the clock to investigate this crime.” Hubbell concluded by saying: “In this sate, if you break the law, you will face the consequences.”

Mollie Tibbetts’ aunt posted a note on Facebook that said: “Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color” and she expressed thanks for the “love, friendship and support throughout this entire ordeal by friends from all different nations and races.”