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Lawyer For Mollie Tibbetts' Alleged Killer Says Debate Over His Immigration Status Just 'Rhetoric'

"You want to jump to say they’re facts," he said, regarding his client's immigration status, which has become a hot-button issue in the wake of Mollie Tibbetts' murder.

By Gina Tron

Defense attorney Allan Richards made an appearance on Fox News’ “The Story” on Thursday night, where he argued with anchor Martha MacCallum about the immigration status of his client Cristhian Rivera, who is accused of killing 20-year-old Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

MacCallum debated Richards’ claim that Rivera was in the United States legally, citing Iowa authorities’ description of Rivera as an undocumented immigrant after his arrest on Tuesday. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services also told Fox News that Rivera did not make any DACA requests and no DACA grants were given to him.

“That’s rhetoric,” Richards told MacCullum. “The United States Constitution provides if you’re not a citizen you’re still entitled to the jurisdiction of the court and entitled to equal protection under the law.”

The anchor went on to state that 24-year-old Rivera is an undocumented immigrant, which she called “just a fact.”

"You want to jump to say they’re facts," Richards replied. "Have these people been under oath? Have these people provided the opportunity to Cristhian to present his point of view on the matter?"

On Thursday, a farm that employed Rivera announced that they did not use the government E-Verify system to check Cristhian Rivera’s immigration status, which has become a bone of contention following his arrest.

"What we learned in the last 24 hours is that our employee was not who he said he was," Dane Lang, co-owner and manager of Yarrabee Farms said on Wednesday afternoon, according to WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa. "And, just within the last four hours, we have come to learn that the Social Security Administration's employment verification service is not the same as E-Verify."

Just one day earlier, Lang had put out a statement in which he said that Rivera, was an employee in good standing who had been vetted through the E-Verify system, a web-based system that allows employers to confirm employees’ ability to work in the United States.

During the five-week search for Tibbetts, the farm said that Rivera didn’t act suspiciously. In fact, he showed up for work and behaved normally, one of his co-workers told CBS News. The co-worker, who asked to remain anonymous, went on to call Rivera a calm man and a good father to a 3-year-old daughter he had with his ex-girlfriend.

On Thursday, a preliminary autopsy report was released, which stated that Tibbetts died from “homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries,” according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

[Photo: Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation]

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