The killing of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts, allegedly
at the hands of an illegal immigrant, has placed a spotlight on
the state's Democratic party, which this summer denounced
federal immigration laws and called for local officials not to
But Iowa Democratic party officials on Wednesday would not say
whether they stood by their immigration platform, and instead
characterized the matter as a "partisan fight."
"The Iowa Democratic Party is going to honor the wishes of the
Tibbetts family to let them grieve in private and will not turn
this senseless tragedy into a partisan fight," Iowa Democratic
Party chairman Troy Price told Fox News.
The national uproar over Tibbetts' slaying also threatens to
upend two key House races underway in the state, which are
considered potentially pivotal to Democrats' chances of retaking
the House in November's midterm elections.
The 2018 Iowa Democratic Party platform, in a section entitled
"Statement of Issues," reads: "We oppose: detaining undocumented
minors, immigrant detention/deportation quotas, locally
enforcing federal immigration laws, mass raids/related
enforcement practices, religious exclusion, 'papers please,'
unnecessary travel-bans, abrogating birthright-citizenship,
separating minor children from their parents when they are
trying to enter the country, internment and concentration camps."
The platform was adopted at a state convention in June. It goes
on in a "Statement of Principles" to "affirm the Democratic
Party’s contributions to our nation’s heritage, accomplishments,
What to know about e-verify and what it has to do with the
Mollie Tibbetts case
Asked directly whether Iowa officials still did not want local
police to enforce federal immigration law, Price did not
respond. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne, the two candidates
Democrats have nominated to take on vulnerable Republican
congressmen in the state, did not immediately respond to Fox
News' inquiries as to their positions on the party platform.
On Wednesday, an Iowa judge ordered Cristhian Rivera, the 24-
year-old illegal immigrant accused of killing Tibbetts, held on
$5 million cash-only bond. Rivera was mostly stoic and looked
straight ahead in the courtroom. He wore headphones and used an
interpreter when the judge spoke, only answering "Yes" when
asked if he understood the proceeding.
A body believed to be Tibbetts was discovered Tuesday hidden in
a corn field beneath several corn stalks after Rivera led
authorities to the location.
Tibbetts' killing has fueled Republican calls to strengthen
border security, while raising questions as to how Rivera was
able to enter and remain in the country.
Rivera worked at a dairy farm, Yarrabee Farms, for the past four
years -- less than three miles from where the 20-year-old
University of Iowa student was staying the night she vanished in
July. The company said he was in good standing as a worker and
was shocked to learn of his alleged involvement in Tibbetts'
disappearance and murder.
The suspect told law enforcement he approached Tibbetts while
she was running, according to authorities. He claimed to have
blacked out and realized later that he had put Tibbetts in his
trunk. Investigators said they believed Rivera had been in the
area for four to seven years.
On Wednesday night, President Trump cited Tibbetts' case to call
for changes to the country's immigration laws.
"Molly Tibbetts, an incredible young woman, is now permanently
separated from her family. A person came in from Mexico
Illegally and killed her. We need the wall, we need our
immigration laws changed. We need our border laws changed. We
need Republicans to do it because the Democrats aren’t going to
do it. This is one instance of many," the president said in a
video posted to Twitter.
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3:24 PM - Aug 22, 2018
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Democrats are aggressively trying to flip the House seats of two
Republicans in Iowa in November, Reps. David Young in the 3rd
Congressional District and Rod Blum in the 1st Congressional
Both races are toss-ups, and are considered key contests as
Democrats try to retake the House in the midterms. That would
require Democrats winning a total of 24 currently GOP-held seats.
Immigration had played a significant role in two campaigns even
before Tibbetts' disappearance.
Cristhian Rivera is charged with murder of 20-year-old Iowa
student Mollie Tibbetts.
Democrats have nominated Finkenauer and Axne to take on Blum and
Young, respectively. Both Finkenauer and Axne are seeking to the
first women to represent Iowa in the House.
Axne has vowed to a provide a "full path to citizenship for
Dreamers and undocumented immigrants who don't have a criminal
background," referring to illegal immigrants brought to the
country as children. The progressive Finkenauer also has come
out in support of immigration reform.
Neither Axne nor Finkenauer responded to Fox News' requests for
comments on the Tibbetts case.
On the Republican side, Young had taken a moderate approach to
the issue, saying he wanted border security but also a path to
citizenship for Dreamers, the Des Moines Register reported.
Blum, for his part, has called for an end to family separations
at the border in the wake of the Trump administration's "zero
tolerance" policy on arresting all illegal border crossers, but
stressed that media coverage of the issue has been unfair.
The Tibbetts case also could have national political
ramifications. The once-fringe call to abolish ICE in recent
months has been picked up by top 2020 Democratic prospects,
including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten
There are signs not all Democrats are ready to take the idea
mainstream, though. In July, House Republicans passed a
nonbinding resolution expressing support for ICE, effectively
daring Democrats to oppose the measure on record. Only 35
Democrats voted against the bill, with 133 voting present.