Photo: AP

The political response to the tragic death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts has already spiraled out of control. With the arrest of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an immigrant from Mexico who police say was undocumented, on charges of first degree murder, anti-immigrant media figure have come out in full force to condemn the crime as a result of America’s “lax” immigration policy. Daily Caller writer and noted plagiarist Benny Johnson referred to the “the sub-human horror of the third-world” in his own racist response. Our president got in on the action as well, using Tibbetts’ murder as a vehicle to advance his anti-immigrant agenda.

But through all this, we’ve heard little from the people who actually knew and loved Tibbetts. Today Tibbetts’ aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, made a public post on Facebook denouncing the racist framing of the response to her niece’s death.

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She wrote:

Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color. Our family has been blessed to be surrounded by love, friendship and support throughout this entire ordeal by friends from all different nations and races. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Crime by undocumented immigrants has been a huge talking point for Trump since his campaign. Recently, he has frequently referenced the Central American gang MS-13 to justify his immigration policies.

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But the truth is that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than natural born citizens, multiple reports have shown.

Tibbett’s aunt is right: people of all kinds do bad things. Pinning this horrible crime on immigration laws rather than on one man’s actions is baseless and detrimental to the millions of American immigrants who are just trying to live their lives. The fact that Tibbetts’ family has to worry about being used as pawns by racists in addition to dealing with their grief is a disgrace.

Update, 10:35 pm: Another relative of Tibbets has spoken out about the politicization of Tibbets’ death. Her cousin, Sam Lucas, who is a second cousin of Tibbets, tweeted in response to Candace Owens and others statements on the murder.

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According to the Washington Post, Lucas received death threats and harassment after posting her tweets. “I wanted to protect my family from this extra grief of politics,” Lucas told the Post. “Even if it was coming from the other side, on some other issue that connected somehow to my cousin, I’d say the same thing.”

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“People are saying, ‘If we had better border control, your cousin would never be dead,’ ” Lucas said. “That may be true but also, a lot of young American women get killed by legal immigrants or people who were born here.”