Rob Tibbetts is angry that his daughter’s murder has suddenly become a rallying cry for the country’s anti-immigration activists. In a moving op-ed for the Des Moines Register, Tibbetts called on politicians and pundits to stop using his daughter’s death to campaign for an agenda that 20-year-old Mollie “vehemently opposed.”
In the op-ed, Tibbets writes that while debating immigration should always be encouraged, he implored on activists to “not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist.” Ultimately, Mollie is not “a pawn in others’ debates,” he wrote. “She may not be able to speak for herself, but I can and will. Please leave us out of your debate.
Allow us to grieve in privacy and with dignity. At long last, show some decency. On behalf of my family and Mollie’s memory, I’m imploring you to stop.”
Mollie Tibbetts was found dead on Aug. 21 after a monthlong search. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who authorities have described as an undocumented immigrant, has been charged with first-degree murder. He allegedly confessed to abducting Mollie while she was on a run.
In the piece published Saturday, Tibbetts also spoke up in favor of the Hispanic community and expressed horror that his daughter’s murder was being used to disparage a whole group of people. “The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people. To suggest otherwise is a lie,” he wrote. Tibbetts expressed his “heartfelt apology” to the Hispanic community for the way it has been placed in the middle of this debate. “We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody,” he wrote. “And yes, we love your food.”
In a separate interview with the Des Moines Register, Tibbetts said he was pushed to write the op-ed after he read a column in the paper by Donald Trump Jr. In the piece, the president’s son criticized the way Democrats responded to his daughter’s killing. “They are seemingly more concerned with protecting their radical open-borders agenda than the lives of innocent Americans,” Trump Jr. wrote. The White House has also used Mollie Tibbetts’ death to advance its agenda, naming her in a tweet that featured a video of family members whose loved ones were killed by undocumented immigrants. “The Tibbetts family has been permanently separated,” read the tweet. “They are not alone.”
Support work like this for just $1
Slate is covering the stories that matter to you. Become a Slate Plus member to support our work. Your first month is only $1.