Mollie Tibbetts was found on August 21st, one month after she was reported as missing. The case had been circulating the US after Tibbetts never returned from her evening jog, in which it is now known that Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an undocumented immigrant, murdered her after she refused his offer to run alongside her. Recently, politicians have been using this tragedy to support their own political agenda against the plight of illegal immigrants, a viewpoint “she believed [was] profoundly racist.” Her father has since spoken out, “encourag[ing] the debate on immigration,” but disagreeing with the way they are using Tibbetts’ death. Donald Trump Jr. had issued an opinionated statement, urging people to focus on the “real problems of our immigration system” in response to Tibbetts’ death. Though this case instigates the debate upon illegal immigrants, politicians should not be using such a tragedy to influence their opinions, when it is possible that Tibbetts herself didn’t agree with such views, and instead devote their time and respect to the Tibbetts family in light of this circumstance.

Background Information

Multiple politicians have used Mollie Tibbetts’ death to encourage their anti-immigrant views, and while it is said that some have since stopped in respect for Tibbetts, others are still doing so to advance their agenda. Rob Tibbetts has issued statements in which he condemns such politicians, arguing that Rivera will receive a fair trial, but “he deserves no more attention” beyond that. President Trump, after Tibbetts’ body was found, had emphasized in a statement, the necessity of “the wall,” and the changing of “our immigration laws.” Rob has been acting as a mediator, stating that diversity should be celebrated, and not argued over. Though Rob was personally affected by the events that had unfolded, he still was able to maintain a mindset that highlighted his daughter’s views, rather than attack a whole population of illegal immigrants based on one’s individual actions. 

How Should This Be Handled? 

Though Rivera’s actions were dreadful and resulted in a tragedy, he will be condemned for his actions and held on trial, as any criminal accused of first-degree murder would. But as Rob Tibbetts has said, the unnecessary attention upon Rivera and its relation to the debate upon illegal immigrants has overshadowed Tibbetts’ death, which should be handled in grief rather than a way for politician’s to advance their agenda. Rob has made it clear that Tibbetts should not be made as a “pawn in others’ debate.” He argues that Rivera’s actions are not a reflection of a group of people, and by using Tibbetts to appeal to anti-immigration supporters, it provides attention to Rivera, rather than Mollie. Mollie disagreed with the ideals of those in support of anti-immigration, and thus the attention devoted to it is counterintuitive and wouldn’t have been supported by Mollie. Overall, this emphasizes how the unwarranted attack on immigrants should not be related to this specific case. If Tibbetts’ family is in disagreement with politicians over this matter, then the politicians should put their effort into respecting Tibbetts’ situation, rather than exploiting it for their own benefit. 

In order to properly address this situation, the politicians and the general public should acknowledge the circumstance as they would with any other similar scenario. The media, by addressing the anti-immigrant views expressed by the politicians, divides society on the basis of their opinions on immigrants, rather than placing attention on the tragedy of Mollie Tibbett’s death. Instead of using this event to fuel certain sentiments, the news of Tibbett’s death should be handled with care in respect to her and her family. 


When tragic events are misinterpreted in order to be generalized and benefit or attack a specific group, society is wrongly highlighting such an event. By generalizing Tibbetts’ case to attack illegal immigrants, certain politicians are using this event to further provoke their own preferred opinion. The fact that Tibbetts’ family disagrees with these views, as did Mollie, demonstrates how people tend to use information to their own benefit, without regarding those involved. Mollie Tibbetts’ death should be a topic of grief, rather than one of an attack on illegal immigrants as a whole.


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