Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday she’s “sorry” Mollie Tibbetts is dead, but urged her family and friends to remember to focus on the “real problems” at the border, where parents are being temporarily separated from their children.
An illegal immigrant has been charged with murdering Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student recently found dead in a cornfield. Republicans have called for a stronger immigration system that might have prevented this crime.
After offering her condolences to the Tibbetts family, who will never be reunited with their daughter again, Warren immediately pivoted to how said it is that moms at the border who have willfully broken the law are being temporarily separated from their babies.
“I’m so sorry for the family here and I know this is hard not only for her family but for the people in her community, the people throughout Iowa,” she said. “But one of the things we have to remember is we need an immigration system that is effective, that focuses on where the real problems are.”
“Last month, I went down to the border and I saw where children had been taken away from their mothers,” Warren continued. “I met with those mothers — who had been lied to, who didn’t know where their children were, who didn’t have a chance to talk to their children. And there was no plan for how they would be reunified with their children.”
“I think we need immigration laws that focuses on people who pose a real threat and I don’t think mamas and babies are where we should be spending our resources,” she said. “Separating a mama from a baby does not make this country safer.”
While some parents have been temporarily separated from their families in accordance with the law at the border, immigration officials have found some of the “parents” are actually escorting children across the border who do not belong to them.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which has been assisting in the Trump Administration’s efforts to reunite illegal immigrant children under the age of five with their parents, has found that one in five of these adults were unfit to be reunited with the children they brought with them to the U.S. illegally.
HHS data shows that 21 of the alleged parents of 102 children between the ages of 0-4 wanted for murder were not the child’s parent, were involved in human trafficking, had outstanding criminal warrants, or were being treated for a communicable disease while in custody.
Police announced Tuesday that Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old Mexican man who came to the U.S. illegally, confessed to following Tibbetts as she jogged on a country road one month ago and led police to her body, which was hidden underneath cornstalks in a field near Brooklyn, Iowa. Rivera said he was following her along a country road in his car and that he got angry when Tibbetts threatened to call the police if he did not leave her alone. He told police that he blacked out and that when he came to, the girl’s body was in the trunk of his car.
Officials say Rivera was residing in the area illegally for at least four years. When he was hired to work at Yarrabee Farms, a nearby dairy farm, the company said he was vetted and cleared through the government’s E-Verify system and that he was an employee in good standing, CNN reported.