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University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, 20. Photo: Screenshot via CBS News YouTube

The arrest of a murder suspect this week, who police had said is an undocumented immigrant responsible for the killing of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, has reignited the debate about America's immigration policies.

What’s happening: On Wednesday, the legal status of 24-year-old suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera came into question. Rivera’s attorney, Allan Richards, said in court filings that his client has been living in the country legally — contradicting what immigration authorities told the Associated Press.

The details: A spokesperson for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told the AP that the agency found no records on Rivera’s legal status. Immigration authorities also reportedly said they have no record of granting Rivera legal entry into the U.S.

  • Rivera, who appeared in court on Wednesday, is facing a first-degree murder charge and life without parole.
  • His employer told the AP that he learned Rivera, who had been working on a dairy farm since 2014, has been using a false name after seeing reports of the arrest. Rivera had reportedly presented an out-of-state government ID and a matching Social Security card.
  • Rivera's attorney has confirmed that Rivera received his paycheck under a different name and that his immigration status is now uncertain, per the AP.

The big picture: At a campaign rally Tuesday night in Charleston, West Virginia President Trump sought to link the case to the country's immigration laws.

  • "You heard about today, with the illegal alien coming in from, very sadly, from Mexico. ... The laws are so bad. The immigration laws are a such a disgrace," he said.

The other side: Reuters reports that Iowa congressional Republicans and other candidates competing in competitive districts have avoided politicizing the case amid fears of voter backlash.

Go deeper

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these recommendations with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.