BOSTON (CBS) – “I’m so sorry for the family and I know this is hard not only for the people in her community, the people throughout Iowa,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren the other day in a CNN interview about the murder of a young Iowa woman, Mollie Tibbetts, and the arrest of an illegal immigrant suspect. “But one of the things we have to remember is we need an immigration system that is effective, that focuses on where real problems are.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Image credit CNN)

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Warren then pivoted to the Trump administration’s unpopular family separation policies at the Mexican border, where she visited earlier this summer, concluding, “I think we need immigration laws that focus on people who pose a real threat.”

Cue the firestorm.

“While I don’t support separating children at the border, I recognize that the murders of children are a real problem. Senator Warren is wrong,” Rep. Geoff Diehl – one of three Republicans competing for the right to challenge Warren this fall – told the State House News Service. Another candidate, Beth Lindstrom, described Warren’s comments as “disrespectful” and “careless,” the News Service reports.

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Massachusetts State Rep. Geoff Diehl, Beth Lindstrom and John Kingston. (WBZ-TV)

And in a WBZ interview (airing in full Sunday, August 26 at 8:30am) candidate John Kingston called Warren’s remarks “a perfect example of how our political discourse is broken. Given her political agenda, running for president, she pivoted to the extremist approach which is to somehow make it about illegal immigrants at the border,” he said. “That was politicizing it for an extremist audience on the left. I don’t think either side should politicize this.”

But it seems both sides are doing just that.

The White House posted a video of survivors of violent crimes committed by illegals talking about how their “separation” from their loved ones in “permanent,” a theme being stressed by the president himself. In another White House video, he cites the Tibbetts murder, then quickly pivots to his own agenda: “We need the wall.”

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The entire exchange is emblematic of how rational discussion of immigration issues is rendered virtually impossible by a political climate where liberals often fail to acknowledge the trauma of immigrant crimes, conservatives grossly overstate the extent of it, and the complex issues at stake are reduced to fodder for bitter pandering.