Iowa's two U.S. senators issued a joint statement on Tuesday offering condolences for the death of Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student, after police said that a man living illegally in the U.S. had been charged with her murder.
Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Iowa Democrat drops bid to challenge Grassley after death of nephew Bipartisan senators press FBI, inspector general for changes following Nassar case MORE (R) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstBiden picks former Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield to Iowa's USDA post Biden has just 33 percent approval rating in Iowa poll Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' MORE (R) said in the statement that they were "deeply saddened" by an announcement from law enforcement that Tibbetts was found dead after a search that lasted more than a month.
The two senators pointed at U.S. immigration laws as being culpable in the death.
“We are deeply saddened that this bright, young woman’s life was cut short. Our heart goes out to the family and friends of Mollie Tibbetts. No family should ever have to endure such a tragedy, especially one that could have been prevented," the two Republicans wrote.
"As [Iowa Gov. Kim] Reynolds said, ‘our immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community.’ Too many Iowans have been lost at the hands of criminals who broke our immigration laws. We cannot allow these tragedies to continue,” they added.
Police said Tuesday that Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, had been charged with Tibbetts's murder after authorities discovered her remains.
Rivera, who The Washington Post reported led investigators to the body, could face life in prison if convicted.
The statement from the two senators condemning violence from immigrants in the country illegally comes despite two studies last year showing that immigrants on average commit less crime than U.S.-born citizens.
One, from the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, found that "all immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives relative to their shares of the population."
Despite this, President TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE and Republicans have frequently pointed to anecdotal evidence of murders committed by immigrants without legal status to justify tougher border security measures, including Trump's signature call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.