President Donald Trump on Friday tied the death of 20-year-old Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts to Democratic policies, continuing the administration’s politicization of crimes allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants.
“Democrat immigration policies are destroying innocent lives and spilling very innocent blood,” Trump said in while speaking in Ohio. “We believe that any party that puts criminal aliens before American citizens should be out of office, not into office.”
The President’s remarks on Tibbetts come not long after the White House added the slain University of Iowa student to a list of individuals who were killed by undocumented immigrants, according to police. Trump was also seen in a video released on his Twitter account speaking about Tibbetts’ death on Thursday.
Tibbetts, whose body was found on Tuesday, went missing while she was on an evening run in July. A preliminary report from the autopsy determined her cause of death was “multiple sharp force injuries,” according to the Iowa State Medical Examiner.
Twenty-four-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a Mexican who came to the United States illegally, was charged in Tibbetts’ death on Wednesday after he said he had followed her while she was on her run.
After the news of her death, the White House began to use the case as a talking point for revising immigration law – which Trump continued on Friday, signaling his addition of her death to his midterm stump speech.
“Just this week we learned that Iowa authorities … they charged an illegal alien in the murder of a college student – Mollie Tibbetts,” the President said.
He later continued, criticizing the media, “When they found out that it was this horrible, illegal immigrant that viciously killed her, all of a sudden that story went down. They didn’t want to cover it the way it should have been covered. But what happened to Mollie was a disgrace, and our hearts go out.”
Trump also tied the death of a woman and the rape of a child to Democratic immigration policies since both acts were allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants.
“In recent weeks an elderly homeless woman was allegedly beaten to death by a twice-deported illegal alien that was not supposed to be in this country,” he said. “In the sanctuary city of Philadelphia, I went to school in Philadelphia, local officials released a previously deported illegal alien back onto the streets after his release. The illegal alien raped a very young child. I won’t even tell you how old this child was.”
The Trump administration has repeatedly seized on crimes committed by undocumented immigrants as a way to push hardline immigration policies.
In December 2017, after a jury acquitted the man who had been charged with killing Kate Steinle, Trump tweeted about the verdict, calling it “disgraceful” and “a complete travesty of justice.”
Steinle’s death was often referenced by Trump on the campaign trail as a warning against sanctuary cities. The man acquitted in her death had been deported five times before the shooting.
CNN’s Eric Levenson contributed to this report.