President Donald Trump used the death of Mollie Tibbetts — the 20-year-old allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant while jogging — as a rallying cry for his tough immigration policies.
But her mother had a different idea: taking in the Mexican teenager whose migrant parents fled the farm where they worked alongside Tibbetts’ alleged killer, according to the Washington Post.
Laura Calderwood decided to house the teenager, Ulises Felix, who’s also friends with her teenage son, Scott, after his migrant parents started receiving threats and left rural Brooklyn, Iowa, according to the Washington Post. The parents reportedly went to Illinois and allowed Ulises the option to stay behind and finish school — and his basketball season.
Tibbetts’ death stoked an already tense debate about illegal immigration earlier this year. In a video posted to Twitter the day after Tibbetts’ body was discovered, Trump described her death as “one instance of many” undocumented immigrants killing U.S. citizens and railed against the country’s “pathetic” immigration laws.
Tibbetts’ father, on the other hand, spoke out to say his daughter was a staunch supporter of immigrants and would have considered the rhetoric surrounding her death racist.
Tibbetts was missing for weeks before her body was discovered on Aug. 21 in an Iowa cornfield. She was attacked while jogging along a rural road and stabbed multiple times. Surveillance camera footage showed Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s car trailing Tibbetts as she ran, and after confessing to her kidnapping, the undocumented immigrant led police to her body. Rivera pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges in September and faces life in prison.
Afterward, Ulises and his family found themselves caught up in Tibbetts’ murder because Rivera trained Ulises on the farm where they worked and even fathered a daughter with his cousin, Iris Monarrez, according to the Washington Post.
Soon after, racist calls started coming to Ulises’ trailer, and his family began to fear for their safety. Scott, Tibbetts’ younger brother, was the first to offer Ulises a place to stay until his parents could care for him again.
Calderwood reportedly considered what her daughter would’ve wanted — and then decided to take Ulises in.
Cover image: In this Aug. 21, 2018, file photo, a poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business in Brooklyn, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)