Trump: Mollie Tibbetts ‘killed by a horrible person who came in from Mexico’

Trump: Mollie Tibbetts ‘killed by a horrible person who came in from Mexico’
© Fox News

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE in an interview broadcast early Thursday used the death of an Iowa college student as a launching point to praise Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and press for stricter immigration laws.

"[Mollie Tibbetts] was killed by a horrible person that came in from Mexico, illegally here, found by ICE, our great ICE who’s abused by the Democrats and the left, and without them you might not be sitting here so comfortably right now," Trump told "Fox & Friends" host Ainsley Earhardt.

"I just think it's so sad. We're building the wall. It's already started. ... The wall is going up. A lot of people don't know that. I'd like to build it even faster, but dealing with the Democrats is very tough," Trump said.

"The immigration laws are horrible. We're doing an incredible job," he added. "But we have bad laws."

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged with murder in connection to the death of Tibbetts, 20, who had been missing for more than a month before authorities discovered her body this week.

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Trump and the White House have seized on Tibbetts's death to promote their agenda pushing for stricter immigration laws, highlighting initial reports that Rivera is an undocumented immigrant.

After Rivera was identified as being in the country illegally, his employer said that he had passed a background check and was in "good standing" as a worker.

Rivera's attorney filed a court document on Wednesday that argued his client was working legally in the U.S..

Trump previously highlighted Tibbetts's death during a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night.

"You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly, from Mexico, and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman. Should’ve never happened," Trump said.

"We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad," he continued. "The immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting them changed, but we have to get more Republicans." 

The White House published a video on Wednesday referencing the Tibbetts family and others who have been "permanently separated" because a loved one was killed by an immigrant in the country illegally.

The video depicts a montage of several unidentified individuals talking about loved ones who were killed by illegal immigrants, with many of them describing violent circumstances.

Trump's rhetoric reverberated among some Republicans. Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley (R) and Joni Ernst (R) issued a joint statement lamenting that "too many Iowans have been lost at the hands of criminals who broke our immigration laws."

Trump regularly claims the U.S. has the “worst” immigration laws of anywhere in the world, and frequently calls on Congress to pass legislation restricting illegal immigration and reforming legal immigration programs.

The president has drawn criticism in the past for his rhetoric toward Mexico, including when he launched his presidential campaign by referring to some Mexicans as "rapists" and "criminals."