Trump used her slain daughter to rail against illegal immigration. She chose a different path. https://t.co/BI23NQj3up
— Javier Gamboa (@JJavierGamboa) December 28, 2018
Terrence McCoy, in the Washington Post:
… Laura Calderwood, whose daughter, Mollie Tibbetts, 20, was allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant and left to rot in a cornfield this past summer, closed the mailbox, walked up the steps to her house and turned on the stove. It was getting on toward 6, and she needed to get dinner going. The boys would be hungry.
There were two inside the house now. One was her son, Mollie’s younger brother, a high school senior named Scott. And the other was his friend, a courteous teenager named Ulises Felix. He was the child of Mexican immigrants. For years, his parents had lived and worked beside her daughter’s alleged killer at the same dairy farm on the other side of town, which they fled after the man’s arrest, leaving behind not only Brooklyn, but also Ulises, their 17-year-old son. He’d wanted to finish high school in the only town he’d ever known, and soon, remarkably, he had a new home — the home of Mollie Tibbetts — where Laura had promised to look after him in his parents’ absence…
The stories almost always begin the same way. A son or daughter is dead, and an undocumented immigrant is blamed. Aggrieved and adrift, the parents search for meaning in it all, some finding what they can in obsession and hatred. “In my life we’re going to find the trash who killed my kid,” said Scott Root of Council Bluffs, Iowa, whose daughter, Sarah Root, 21, was killed in 2016, allegedly by an undocumented drunk driver who was released after partially paying bail and then disappeared. Others find meaning in political transformation. “I became a Republican,” said Sabine Durden of Mineral Springs, Ark., whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant in a traffic collision. And still others in activism: “My story needed to get out,” said Laura Wilkerson of Pearland, Tex., whose son, Josh Wilkerson, 18, was beaten to death in 2010 by an undocumented immigrant.
Then there is Laura Calderwood. Fifty-five, with curly blond hair and a halting gait, she is a lifelong liberal who didn’t abandon her politics. She feels anger like the others, but not toward an entire group of people. She’s not afraid of the demographic change remaking the country. But she does fear the deepening polarization. So she never goes to political rallies — never speaks publicly — because she believes that would just inflame things. Instead, she tries to live every day, including this one, just as she did before it all happened.
By late afternoon, Laura had finished up her shift at the grocery store, where she works in the catering department, and gotten into her white SUV. She drove through nearby Grinnell, pulling up to the public library, as always, seeking a sense of calm in its quiet. She went in and sat near the magazines, one of which she had been reading the afternoon of July 19, when her phone rang…
The landscape on the drive home was a rolling splash of dull browns, marked by election signs, including one for Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. She had taught Laura everything she needed to know about politics.
The day it was broadcast that Mollie was found, Reynolds called and wept with her on the phone. Laura had been moved by her tenderness — and still was — but then, on that same day, Reynolds issued a public statement. Gone was the empathetic woman from the phone call and instead was someone now using the words “predator” and “broken immigration system.” The next statement was even harsher, this one from Trump. He’d never called Laura, knew little about her daughter, but had no problem, Laura thought, using Mollie’s death to try to end immigration policies he now referred to as “pathetic.”
Laura hated the sound of Mollie’s name coming from his mouth. His words were the opposite of who Mollie was, advancing a “cause she vehemently opposed,” as her father, Rob Tibbetts, who’s separated from Laura, wrote in a newspaper column soon after her funeral. She’d wanted to welcome all immigrants who needed help. So when Scott soon came to Laura with an unusual request — could they take Ulises in? — she asked what had happened. The nation, it seemed, was directing its anger about Mollie’s death toward Yarrabee Farms, where her alleged killer had worked, deluging it with vitriolic messages. The immigrant families who worked there were fleeing.
Laura thought of Mollie. She would argue that the farmworkers didn’t deserve this, that they were only trying to earn a living. What would she say about Ulises? Bring him in? Laura thought that his father may be undocumented and worried about attracting unwanted attention, but again, what would Mollie say?…
It’s an amazing story, of which this is just a snippet, and you should definitely read the whole thing. If you can’t get beyond the paywall (is Amazon still offering special rates for WaPo subscriptions?), save the link and read it Wednesday!