The Mollie Tibbetts murder continues to emerge as a flashpoint in the immigration debate, even if some members of the Iowa student's family aren't happy about it, reports NBC News. The reason? US immigration officials say 24-year-old suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera was in the country illegally, though his attorney continues to push back against that claim. A look at related developments:
- Geraldo criticizes Fox: One of those criticizing Fox News for focusing so strongly on the immigration angle turns out to be one of its own hosts, Geraldo Rivera, reports the Washington Post. "We, at this network, are putting that spin on this story," Rivera said on the network Thursday night. "This is a murder story. It's not an immigration story." He added that he knows he's in the minority view in the Fox audience on this, "but I'm begging you to have compassion and not brand this entire population by the deeds of this one person."
- Counter-view: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been among those on the right blaming too-soft immigration policies for the murder. "The CNNs, the MSNBCs, most of the print media in this country, and the Democrats, they are all accomplices in the death of this young girl and the death of everyone else," he said on Fox, per DallasNews.com. He also called out Geraldo Rivera, and the two plan to debate the issue.
- The politics: One comment in wide circulation is from Newt Gingrich, who told Axios, "If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble." President Trump, meanwhile, has used the murder to make another case for his border wall. "A person came in from Mexico and killed her," he said in an online video.
- Relatives respond: Some members of Tibbetts' family don't want her linked to the debate. "I don't want Mollie's memory to get lost amongst politics," aunt Billie Jo Calderwood told CNN. A second cousin, Samantha Lucas, posted an angry message online demanding that Tibbetts' death not be used for "political propaganda." Tibbetts' immediate family didn't address the issue in a statement asking for privacy, per Time.
- Is he undocumented? The latest from ICE Thursday afternoon: "Law enforcement remains absolutely confident that we've correctly identified the suspect as an illegal alien from Mexico, based both on investigative interviews with him and on records checks," per a statement picked up by the Des Moines Register, which runs through how the details regarding suspect Rivera's citizenship status have changed. On Thursday night, his attorney, Allan Richards, dismissed these allegations as "rhetoric," per Fox News.
- Another focus: While the case has put the spotlight on immigration laws, it also has focused attention on the importance of immigrant labor in farm states such as Iowa, reports the AP, which digs in.
The autopsy says "sharp force injuries" caused Tibbetts' death
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