The Mexican national accused of murdering college student Mollie
Tibbetts in Iowa last month lived in the United States illegally
for several years -- and worked for a farm that used Social
Security Administration data in part to vet potential employees,
according to officials there.
However, Yarrabee Farms co-owner and manager Dane Lang clarified
Wednesday afternoon that the farm did not use a federal E-Verify
check on suspect Cristhian Rivera, despite the company's claim
earlier in the day that it did.
Lang said Rivera provided a state-issued photo identification
and social security card. “We learned that our employee was not
who he said he is.”
Jackie Ibanez has the latest details on the case.
Rivera, 24, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder
Tuesday after the body of Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of
Iowa student, was discovered in a cornfield about 12 miles
southeast of Brooklyn, where she was last seen running. Police
said Rivera was in the country illegally and an immigration
detainer was placed on him after his arrest.
Yarrabee Farms told reporters Rivera worked at the farm for four
Lang said earlier that all documents regarding Rivera’s
employment have been turned over to authorities. Yarrabee Farms
is owned by the family of Craig Lang, the former president of
the Iowa Farm Bureau and a former GOP primary candidate to be
Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services told Fox
News: "A search of records by USCIS revealed Rivera did not make
any DACA requests nor were any grants given. We have found no
record in our systems indicating he has any lawful immigration
status." DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was
instituted during the Obama administration and allows some
immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain
in the country.
Investigators have said he arrived to the U.S. illegally from
Mexico at some point between 4 and 7 years ago.
Cristhian Rivera is charged with murder of 20-year-old Iowa
student Mollie Tibbetts.
A search of Iowa court records revealed no prior criminal
history for Rivera, and it's unclear whether he'd ever been
subject to prior deportation proceedings.
Identity fraud is the most common way illegal immigrants and
"unscrupulous employers" try to thwart the system, said Jessica
Vaughan, the director of policy studies for the Center for
While the details regarding how Rivera may have gamed the system
remain unclear, Vaughan said many of the cases prosecuted in the
past have seen an illegal immigrant simply purchase fraudulent
“There have been cases of inmates selling their identities
because they are incarcerated and don’t need them,” she said.
In one Massachusetts case, a hiring manager actually had an
agreement with an identity vendor across the street who would
help any illegal immigrant receive an identity that would pass
muster, Vaughan said.
“They would send them across the street and tell them to come
back later,” she said.
Rivera’s arrival to the U.S. as a teenager has also raised
questions about if he may have been a so-called “Dreamer,” who
may have qualified for the Obama administration's Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Vaughan, however, said it is unlikely because to qualify for
DACA, an illegal immigrant child must have lived in the U.S. for
at least five years before 2012. If Rivera arrived in 2011 – the
earliest officials believed he could have crossed the border
from Mexico – he would not have fit the criteria.
USCIS officials have not confirmed any possible DACA status for
“There are a lot of layers to peel off,” Vaughan said.