Sen. Elizabeth Warren was asked about the suspected murder of Mollie Tibbetts on Wednesday and took the opportunity to blast the Trump administration's treatment of illegal immigrants.
Tibbets was a 20-year-old Iowa student who disappeared in July while jogging. Authorities announced on Tuesday they found her body in a cornfield in a rural part of the county and later announced they had also arrested suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who is believed to be an illegal immigrant, and charged him with first-degree murder. Rivera was working for a prominent family on an area farm, the Associated Press reports. The company said Rivera had been an employee in good standing for four years and that it was shocked to learn he was implicated in the crime.
"Mollie Tibbetts, the young woman in Iowa who was murdered. Her body was believed to be found yesterday. A person has been charged with it. This person is an undocumented immigrant," CNN host John Berman said. "Mike Pence and the president have suggested the immigration laws need to be stronger so that people like this man who was accused of this murder are not in the country. Your reaction?
"I'm so sorry for the family and I know this is hard not only for the people in her community, the people throughout Iowa," Warren said before criticizing the Trump administration for its handling of immigration.
"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. Last month, I went down to the border and I saw where children had been taken away from their mothers. I met with those mothers – who had been lied to, who didn't know where their children were, who hadn't had a chance to talk to their children. And there was no plan for how they would be reunified with their children. I think we need immigration laws that focus on people who pose a real threat. And I don't think mamas and babies are the place that we should be spending our resources. Separating a mama from a baby does not make this country safer."
Warren was referring to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy on immigration, which involved charging all individuals who cross the border illegally with unlawful entry. People who attempt to cross the border undetected but then claim asylum are also charged with unlawful entry and taken into custody until their case is processed, a process that could take weeks or months. Federal law prevents children from being held in the same detention facility as those charged with unlawful entry, causing border patrol agents earlier this year to temporarily separate children from their families.
Trump signed an executive order in June to stop the practice of separating parents and children at the U.S. border. Many have argued, however, that Congress is responsible for changing the law if any longterm solution is to be reached. Some separated families have been reunited while others still await reunification.