Jason Chaffetz: Mollie Tibbetts murder proves Congress must act on border wall now

The appalling killing of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbets in rural Iowa – allegedly by an illegal immigrant who has been charged with first-degree murder – should give new urgency to the effort to get Congress to fund a border wall to protect the safety of all Americans.

Mollie’s tragic death has galvanized public opinion on immigration, putting a spotlight on an issue that has already ranked among the top concerns of voters.

With just eight full legislative days remaining on the House calendar between now and the Nov. 6 midterm elections, Congress must pass a budget to keep the government running. Nothing lawmakers can do in that budget will have a bigger impact than funding a border wall. This is, quite literally, a matter of life and death.

If Congress really wants to enhance the day-to-day safety and security of everyone living in the U.S. – both citizens and non-citizens – a border wall must be the top budget priority. The wall would keep criminals out. It would remove the incentive for dangerous border crossings and it would ends family separations.

All of this can be done without compromising the ability of legitimate asylum seekers to petition for legal admission into the U.S.

Reuters/Ipsos poll released in early July – before Mollie Tibbets was killed – showed that 15 percent of registered voters and 26 percent of Republicans cited immigration as the top concern driving their vote in November.

Despite the best efforts of Democrats and their media allies to ignore the need to finally get control of immigration into our country, people turned to social media to express concern and demand a better policy.

Fox News is the only network that has devoted sufficient attention to Mollie Tibbett’s killing and to the arrest and initial court appearance of her accused killer, identified as Cristhian Rivera.

Authorities said that Rivera, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, told them he followed Mollie while she was jogging. They said Rivera told them he panicked when Mollie threatened to call police, blacked out, and then remembers dumping her body in a cornfield and covering it with corn stalks. Surveillance video led to his arrest.

Other networks had extensively covered the hunt for the killer, but lost interest when the man arrested and charged with murder turned out to be in the country illegally.

Every American can relate to the fear and pain that must be felt by the families of those who become victims of criminal immigrants. There is absolutely no good reason to allow criminals to cross our borders with impunity.

We have people like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., telling us we need to focus on keeping immigrant families together. I agree. A border wall will do that.

With a border wall, families won’t get separated, because they won’t need to cross the border until their asylum petition has already been granted. Those with bogus asylum claims won’t risk separation, either, because they won’t be able to get here in the first place.

If Democrats were serious about protecting the safety and security of legitimate asylum seekers, they would encourage those families and individuals to apply for asylum at our embassies in their home countries, instead of paying coyotes and putting their lives at risk crossing the border.

The American people spend millions of dollars staffing our embassies abroad so no one has to make a dangerous and expensive trek across the border. We already have embassies and consulates in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and throughout Mexico.

With the upcoming budget process, Congress has the ability to do two things: fund the border wall, and get rid of sanctuary cities and states that attract and protect criminal illegal immigrants.

The question is, do Republicans have the political guts to drive this to the finish line?

Funding the border wall is good public policy. It also highlights the two very different approaches between Democrats and Republicans, giving voters an immediate opportunity to weigh in on the approach they believe will work best.