Latinx community feels effects of immigration debate following death of Mollie Tibbetts

The Latinx community at the University of Iowa is feeling the effects of immigration debates started after the charging of and undocumented immigrant in the death of Mollie Tibbetts.


Nick Rohlman

UISG Latinx Constituency Senator Fredy Quevedo poses for a portrait in the Latino-Native American Cultural Center on Monday, August 27, 2018. In his role as Constituency Senator, Quevedo serves as a bridge between UISG and the latino community.

Brooklyn Draisey , News Reporter

Debates about immigration have spiked after authorities charged an undocumented immigrant in the death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, rocking the Latinx community.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged last week with first-degree murder in the slaying of Tibbetts, who was found dead Aug. 21.

Since then, two Latino festivals have either been postponed or canceled. The Iowa City Latino Festival has been postponed with no new date set. The ¡Viva Perry! Festival in Perry, Iowa, has also been canceled.

Social-media posts about Tibbetts and the immigration system have flooded the internet, ranging from claims of a broken immigration system to calls to see a different cause of Tibbetts’ death: violence toward women who reject a man.

Fredy Quevedo, the Latinx constituency senator for UI Student Government, said he has seen some hateful things while scrolling on Twitter.

“[The festival] was something people were looking forward to, and it’s unfortunate that it had to be moved because of such rhetoric,” Quevedo said.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa released a statement offering condolences to the Tibbetts family and reminding people that this was the work of one man, not a whole community.

They said Tibbetts’ death will be used as a “rallying point” for anti-immigration advocates, including some politicians looking to forward their agendas.

“Now is not the time to politicize a senseless death,” the statement said. “There is only one person responsible for this tragedy, and we firmly hope that person is held accountable.”

Quevedo echoed the group’s statement, and he said it has affected the Latinx community in negative ways. There haven’t been any negative repercussions on the UI campus, he said, but he noted many people have been concerned with backlash toward the community.

Quevedo said he has even received calls from worried friends and family about being safe.

“[The conversation] is going toward a path it shouldn’t. It’s affecting, from I’ve seen, the [Latinx] community …” he said. “It’s just wrong.”

While Quevedo said he couldn’t speak for UISG in terms of supporting the Latinx community, the UI Latino Council released a statement offering support. The statement also contained contact information for the University Counseling Service.

“Parts of the rhetoric about immigration have been clearly hurtful and hateful,” the Latino Council said in a statement. “Please be aware that we are concerned for your safety and well-being.”

The conversation needs to move on from immigration and focus on the tragedy, Quevedo said. Coming together as people to talk about what happened and their feelings about it is the key to create empathy and move forward, he said.

“It’s these experiences that shape the way we think, the way we view the world …” he said. “The best way for us to come together as one and move past this is to communicate, talk, and have an honest conversation about what is happening.

Facebook Comments