The system that failed Mollie Tibbetts

Mollie Tibbetts, the twenty year old student who was attending the University of Iowa, went missing after a solo jog on July 18, 2018. She was found on August 21, 2018 in a rural area hidden under cornstalks. How do we as a nation deal with the weight of issues that hit so close to home? Some would argue that policy decisions play a primary role when addressing these types of situations.

As Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas stated, “Mollie would be alive if our government had taken immigration enforcement seriously years ago.” This particular statement isn’t unfounded. Cristhian Rivera, Tibbetts’ killer, was reported to have been living in the United States for about seven years. He worked at an Iowa dairy farm for the majority of those years. He used a stolen identity in order to skip past the Social Security number check in order to remain “legally” employed. He was said to have had filed tax returns with the IRS, owned a car registered under someone else’s name and drove without a license for years.

Unfortunately, the requirement of an out-of-state nondriver ID was not enforced. In addition to the aforementioned loophole, the killer was said to have filed tax returns with his stolen identity. Where was the notification to the victim of this identity theft? The IRS doesn’t cooperate with DHS despite knowing that the filer in question may be an illegal immigrant. All of these issues are solely attributed to the lazy policy choices that have been enacted.

So what?

Change must be inevitable. Some fixes may include the building of a more secure barrier, a mandated E-Verify check in for all new employees (which would allow people to be notified when their SSN has been used for employment) or the implementation of systematic communication between DHS, IRS, and SSA.

Either way, something must be done to prevent further harrowing headlines such as these from flashing across America’s newsfeed.


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