Mollie Tibbetts, 20, a psychology student at the University of Iowa, went for a jog on July 18 and was never seen alive again. She was once a cross-country runner, a good athlete, and hope was fading but still alive when the first month passed and she was still missing. Then her body was recovered on Aug. 21, a life snuffed out before the life could begin in earnest. Miss Tibbetts’ dreams of life and love vanished with her.
One Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, a Mexican evidently in the country illegally, was arrested and charged with taking that life. His employer, a dairy farm, says Mr. Rivera presented false identification documents and the dairy farm doesn’t knowingly employ illegal workers. The claim is credible, given that 7 of 10 illegal immigrants arrive in the United States with false documents, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Charged with first-degree murder, Mr. Rivera is in jail, where he will stay unless he can put up a $5 million bond in cash.
The murder of Miss Tibbetts is fundamentally a horrific crime and unspeakable tragedy, an example of the sickness that can lurk deep in the human soul. But given Mr. Rivera’s immigration status, it’s a political issue, too. The president came to the White House on the strength of his promise to do something about illegal immigration, which marked him as different from his Republican primary opponents. They were against illegal immigration, too, so they said, but generally wanted to change the subject and talk about something else. So, too, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee in 2016. Mr. Trump continued to talk about it, and about the crimes committed by illegal immigrants, sometimes in florid terms, as in his over-the-top remark that “they’re rapists.”
The Democrats, meanwhile, are now embracing the idea that theirs is the party of no borders, no rules and no enforcement of immigration law. At their 2016 convention in Philadelphia, illegal immigrants addressed the crowd from the dais, a clear sign of open contempt for the law. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, whether they meant it or not, had in the past paid lip-service to the idea of enforcing the law. When he was a senator from Illinois, Mr. Obama had supported legislation that would have erected a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexican border. Donald Trump took that idea and ran with, literally.
Leading Democrats now embrace a quixotic campaign to “Abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” which is the agency of the U.S. Homeland Security Department charged with enforcing immigration law. Once a fringe idea relegated to the political margins, the push to “Abolish ICE” is eagerly helped along by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who are expected to be candidates for president in 2020.
It’s only mildly surprising that Sen. Warren tripped on the matter of the murder of Miss Tibbetts. In a television interview last week, she demonstrated remarkable insensitivity and political tone-deafness about the murder. “I’m so sorry for the family and I know this is hard, not only for the family but for the people in her community, the people throughout Iowa,” she told CNN. “But one of the things we have to remember is we need an immigration system that is effective, that focuses on where real problems are.” Confronting her killer, it seems to us, was a “real problem” for Mollie Tibbetts. The senator then pivoted to Democratic talking points about border issues. An innocent young woman was murdered by a man who had no right to be here, and grief and sorrow were merely an inconvenient interruption of the discussion of a senator’s talking points.
To be sure, the vast majority of illegal immigrants are peaceful, though the Government Accountability Office has reported that more than 32,000 immigrants have been imprisoned since 1974 for homicide. The majority of these immigrants were, and are, here illegally, says Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies. The loss of life is the ultimate tragedy, shading all other considerations, but such crimes drain the public purse as well. Federal and state governments have spent $2.5 billion incarcerating foreign-born criminals, not including the costs of arrest and prosecution.
“All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens.”
Those were the words of a president, but not the words of Donald Trump. Those were the words of President Clinton in 1995. Mr. Trump said he would do something about what previous presidents wouldn’t, and he has.