Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Trump said he spoke to murder victim’s family. The victim’s sister said it never happened.

Trump said he spoke to murder victim’s family. The victim’s sister said it never happened.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Donald Trump used his campaign event in Michigan on Tuesday to denounce what he called “Biden’s border bloodbath,” zeroing in on the case of a young woman killed by someone immigration officials say had entered the country illegally.

“She lit up that room, and I’ve heard that from so many people,” Trump said at a news conference in the hometown of the 25-year-old victim, Ruby Garcia. “I spoke to some of her family.”

But Garcia’s sister, acting as a family spokeswoman, said Tuesday that Trump and his campaign have not contacted her or other immediate relatives — and rebuked the GOP presidential nominee’s effort to make the case part of his calls for a border crackdown.

“It’s always been about illegal immigrants,” the victim’s sister, Mavi Garcia, told local news station Target 8. “Nobody really speaks about when Americans do heinous crimes, and it’s kind of shocking why he would just bring up illegals. What about Americans who do heinous crimes like that?”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Mavi Garcia confirmed to The Washington Post that Trump and his campaign never spoke with the family. Trump did not mention speaking with Garcia’s family at a Wisconsin rally later Tuesday.

Trump has made immigration central to his campaign for a second term and increasingly linked the issue to crime, speaking at length at his rallies about high-profile killings police attributed to undocumented immigrants — Laken Riley in Georgia, and now Garcia in Grand Rapids, a city in one of the most hotly contested counties in one of a handful of states that could decide the presidential race. The defendant in Garcia’s case, 25-year-old Brandon Ortiz-Vite, had a previous arrest record and was deported in September 2020 under the Trump administration before finding his way back to the United States.

Democrats have emphasized evidence that undocumented immigrants do not commit more crime than legal residents — and framed Garcia’s case in Michigan as a testament to the dangers of domestic violence. Authorities say the accused was dating Ruby Garcia when he fatally shot her and left her on the roadside on March 22.

Garcia’s family members stayed away from the political firestorm around her death in the days leading up to Trump’s event, limiting their public comments to remembrances.

But Mavi Garcia elaborated on Tuesday after calling Trump’s comments “shocking.”

“He did not speak with any of us, so it was kind of shocking seeing that he had said that he had spoke with us, and misinforming people on live TV,” she told Target 8. She said she wishes Ortiz-Vite had “stayed in Mexico” but that “the focus should be on my sister right now, who she was in life.”

Ortiz-Vite has been charged with murder and other offenses.

Isaac Arnsdorf contributed to this report.

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