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Mollie Tibbetts, R.I.P.

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But But Sanctuary Cities! Blue Wave! Obama Democrats Murdering Americans!

May 27, 2019, 11:35:03 AM5/27/19
The role of immigration policy failures
How responsible is immigration policy for Mollie Tibbetts’s

The chief culprit, obviously, is the murderer himself, Mexican
illegal alien Cristhian Rivera (if that’s even his real name).
But immigration control is one of the elemental responsibilities
of the national government, and it failed in this case. As
Senator Tom Cotton put it: “Mollie would be alive if our
government had taken immigration enforcement seriously years

But there are different levels of culpability. The government
bears the greatest share of blame when the authorities have an
illegal alien in custody, they know he’s deportable, they
release him anyway, and he goes on to commit more crimes. For
example, it’s not too much to say that the elected and appointed
officials of San Francisco were accomplices in the deaths of
Kate Steinle and the Bologna family because of that city’s
sanctuary policies.

The least share of responsibility would accrue to our
immigration policies if an alien managed to infiltrate the
country undetected and then had no interactions with government
or any other institutions of our society before committing his
crime. Given how unserious we are about immigration enforcement,
our policies would still warrant a share of the blame, but the
responsibility would be more diffuse and indirect.

The Tibbetts murder falls somewhere in between. Unlike the
killers of Steinle, the Bolognas, Menachem Stark, Jamiel Shaw
II, Drew Rosenberg, Grant Ronnebeck, Reginald Destin, and
others, Tibbetts’s killer was not shielded by a sanctuary
jurisdiction and is not believed to have been previously
arrested and released (though we may learn more in the coming

On the other hand, Tibbetts’s killer is reported to have lived
in the United States for seven years, from age 17, and worked at
an Iowa dairy farm for four of those years. He worked on the
books, having used a stolen identity to get past the Social
Security–number check (not E-Verify) used by his employer. His
lawyer said that the killer “diligently filed tax returns
legally with the IRS.” He had a car registered in someone else’s
name and managed to drive for years without a license. He had a
child with a high-school classmate of Tibbetts’s, meaning he was
presumably listed as the father on the birth certificate.

That’s a lot of interaction with our institutions. That an
illegal alien can do all that — for years — without raising a
red flag represents a profound failure of policy. For instance:
He used someone else’s identity to get the dairy-farm job — was
the rightful owner of that identity notified when his Social
Security number was used to check employment eligibility? If I
make a change online to my bank account, I receive an email
notifying me of the change so that if it was done improperly I
can alert the bank. There is no such notification for the use of
our most important personal identifiers, and the Social Security
Administration resists the very suggestion of coordination with
the immigration authorities to identify illegal aliens in the
work force.

The killer filed tax returns, presumably using the stolen
identity. Was the victim of this identity theft notified that
another tax return was being filed in his name? Again, no — the
IRS refuses cooperation with the Department of Homeland
Security, even when it knows the filer is an illegal alien (as
when a filer provides an Individual Taxpayer Identification
Number on the tax return but has a different, stolen number on
the W-2 form).

Given that he had a steady, on-the-books job, the killer
probably had a bank account. Banks have to comply with a variety
of federal “know your customer” regulations, but verifying the
authenticity of the killer’s documents (reportedly including an
out-of-state non-driver ID) apparently was not one of them.

None of these gaps that allowed Mollie Tibbetts’s killer to live
here illegally for years is the fault of a lazy bureaucrat or an
inattentive police officer. They are the result of policy
choices that weaken our immigration security and enable someone
like the killer to remain here with impunity.

Some fixes:

• I’m not a wall enthusiast, but it remains too easy to
surreptitiously cross the border with Mexico. Just this week a
caravan of 128 Mexicans and Central Americans, including young
children, crossed en masse in Arizona because the border was
marked only with three-foot-high vehicle barriers designed to
stop cars but not people.

• Require systematic, built-in, ongoing cooperation between DHS,
SSA, and IRS. There is no excuse for one hand of the federal
government not knowing — not being allowed to know — what the
other is doing.

• Mandate E-Verify for all new hires. To root out identity
theft, the E-Verify bill in the House would require that people
be notified when their Social Security number was used for

• Require as a condition of receiving federal highway funds that
all state DMVs participate in E-Verify’s RIDE program, which
authenticates driver’s licenses or non-driver state IDs
presented for employment.

As David French noted yesterday, “While no border can be
perfectly guarded, we can do better. We simply choose not to.”
That choice probably cost a young girl her life. And that’s our


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