By Paul P. Murphy and Jason Hanna, CNN
Some relatives of Mollie Tibbetts are pushing back against politicians who are blaming the country’s immigration system for the Iowa college student’s death.
A body believed to be Tibbetts’ was found in Iowa on Tuesday, a month after she went missing during an evening jog. The man arrested in her death is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.
President Donald Trump and other Republican politicians have highlighted the case to argue for stricter enforcement of immigration laws.
But some of Tibbetts’ family members, including her aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, say they don’t want her death to be used for political leverage.
“I don’t want Mollie’s memory to get lost amongst politics,” Calderwood told CNN, emphasizing that she’s speaking only for herself.
She said her family received an outpouring of love from people of all races, religions and ethnicities during the search for her niece.
“It’s not about race, it’s about people joining together to do good,” said Calderwood, who posted a similar message on Facebook.
One of Tibbetts’ second cousins, Samantha Lucas, also told CNN she wants Tibbetts’ death removed from political discussion.
Lucas said she didn’t know her second cousin well, and isn’t speaking for the whole family. But she says knows enough about Tibbetts to believe “she would not want this to be used as fuel against undocumented immigrants.”
CNN contacted Lucas after she pushed back against people on social media who mentioned Tibbetts as they railed against illegal immigration.
Few of Tibbetts’ relatives have spoken publicly on the issue. In a statement released Wednesday, Tibbetts’ family said it was grateful for the outpouring of love and support it has received from people around the world.
The statement didn’t mention immigration.
At a vigil for Tibbetts in Iowa City on Wednesday, a friend of the 20-year-old said she didn’t want the tragedy to be politicized.
“I also know what Mollie stood for … and she would not approve,” the friend, Breck Goodman, said. “So I don’t want her death to be used as propaganda. I don’t want her death to be used for more prejudice and for more discrimination, and I don’t think she would want that, either.”