UPDATE: The Lang family has changed their story since the relevant documents were filed. The business now admits they did not use the e-verify system, and the current allegation is that Rivera worked for them for years using a fake ID.
Previous Story Before Update:
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is charged with the murder of Mollie Tibbetts, a young woman who disappeared in July. Politicians have weighed in on the murder, turning the focus to immigration laws. Donald Trump and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds both made statements referencing illegal entry into the country. However, a document filed in court Wednesday says that Rivera is not in the country illegally after all, and was employed by a family member of a prominent Iowa Republican for years.
According to Des Moines Register, attorney Allen Richards has filed documents calling for a gag order, saying that the president of the United States and other politicians are falsely calling the accused man an illegal immigrant, poisoning any potential jury pool. Referring to Trump as “sad and sorry,” Richards identified Rivera’s long-time employer as Eric Lang, the brother of Iowa GOP politician Craig Lang. Richards further says that Lang has been able to confirm Rivera’s legal status.
We Are Iowa published a statement from the Langs saying their family farm follows employment laws, and verifies the legal status of all employees. The family expressed sympathy for the Tibbetts family, and regret that one of their employees could be involved in such a crime.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds tweeted yesterday blaming “a broken immigration system” for Tibbetts’ death.
As Iowans, we are heartbroken, and we are angry. We are angry that a broken immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community, and we will do all we can bring justice to Mollie’s killer.
— Gov. Kim Reynolds (@IAGovernor) August 21, 2018
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst wighed in on the case with a reference to “criminals who broke our immigration laws.”
…We are thankful for hard work of @IAGovernor, federal, state & local law enforcement as they continue to find answers for Mollie’s family & American public, & bring the killer to justice.Too many Iowans have been lost at the hands of criminals who broke our immigration laws.
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) August 21, 2018
A statement from the White House referred to Rivera as an illegal alien.
For 34 days, investigators searched for 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. Yesterday, an illegal alien, now charged with first-degree murder, led police to the cornfield where her body was found.
Politico cites Trump’s appearance at a campaign rally, where he called Rivera “that illegal alien from Mexico.”
You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, sadly, from Mexico, and you saw what happened to that incredible beautiful young woman.
Prejudicing a potential jury pool ahead of a trial can result in difficulty selecting an impartial jury, and can open the door for appeals if the accused is convicted. The legal system, when it works at its best, brings criminals to justice. However, prejudicial public statements from politicians aiming to further an agenda as mid-term elections approach can interfere with that purpose, rather than aiding it.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com