Experts say legal status system for workers easily exploited

Associated Press

MONTEZUMA, Iowa (AP) — Experts say the systems offered by the U.S. government to check the legal status of workers like the Mexican man now accused of killing an Iowa college student can be easily exploited.

Authorities say Cristhian Bahena Rivera was living in the U.S. illegally. Rivera, 24, was charged with murder in the death of a college student

In the case of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the 24-year-old now charged with murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, Rivera's ex-employer said Wednesday he provided an out-of-state ID card and Social Security number.

Dane Lang, a member of the family that owns Yarrabee Farms, said the family did not use the federal E-Verify system to check Rivera's identity, correcting information he gave Tuesday.

Both E-Verify and the Social Security Administration's program, immigration experts say, can be beaten with a state ID and a Social Security number belonging to someone else.

Immigration authorities say they have no record of granting admission into the United States to the man suspected of killing an Iowa college student.

A ribbon for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on a light post, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa.

A spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Wednesday that a search of the agency's records found nothing indicating that Cristhian Bahena Rivera has any "lawful" immigration status.

That potentially contradicts the statement of Rivera's attorney that he "has the legal documents" to work in the United States.

Rivera is accused of killing 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. His immigration status has drawn national attention, and the White House has said Tibbetts' death has underscored the need for immigration restrictions proposed by President Donald Trump.

A county truck blocks a gravel road, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, near Brooklyn, Iowa, where the body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts was discovered.