Trump goes after Biden on the border and crime during midwestern swing – Hartford Courant

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By JOEY CAPPELLETTI and JILL COLVIN (Associated Press)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Donald Trump again used language denounced by Democrats to hammer President Joe Biden over his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border on Tuesday as he campaigned in two midwestern swing states likely to be critical to the outcome of the 2024 election.

Trump, who has accused migrants of “poisoning the blood of the country” and vowed to launch the largest domestic deportation operation in the country’s history if he wins a second term, delivered a speech in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in which he accused Biden of allowing a “bloodbath” that was “destroying the country.” The former president referred to immigrants in the U.S. illegally suspected of committing crimes as “animals,” using dehumanizing language that those who study extremism have warned increases the risk of violence.

“Under Crooked Joe Biden, every state is now a border state. Every town is now a border town,” Trump said at the DeVos Place, where he stood flanked by law enforcement officers in uniform before a line of flags.

While violent crime is down, Trump and other Republicans have seized on several high-profile crimes alleged to have been committed by immigrants in the U.S. illegally to attack Biden as illegal border crossings have hit record highs. Polls suggest Trump has an advantage over Biden on immigration issues as many prospective voters say they’re concerned about the impact of the crossings.

Trump will hold a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Wednesday evening as the state holds its presidential primaries.

Trump on Tuesday focused on the killing of Ruby Garcia, a Michigan woman who was found dead on the side of a Grand Rapids highway on March 22. Police say she was in a romantic relationship with the suspect, Brandon Ortiz-Vite. He told police he shot her multiple times during an argument before dropping her body on the side of the road and driving off in her red Mazda.

Trump incorrectly referred to the 25-year-old Garcia as a 17-year-old.

Authorities say Ortiz-Vite is a citizen of Mexico and had previously been deported following a drunken driving arrest. He does not have an attorney listed in court records.

Trump had told conservative Michigan radio host Justin Barclay on Monday that he’d “love to have” members of Garcia’s family attend his speech “if they’d like to be there — it’d be in my honor.” While they did not appear to have taken him up on the offer, Trump said in his remarks that he had spoken to some of her family.

Garcia’s sister, Mavi, however, disputed his account, telling FOX 17 that they had not. “No, he did not speak with us,” the outlet said she told them in a text message, declining to comment further.

She also pleaded on Facebook last week for reporters to stop politicizing her sister’s story, and on Wednesday asked or privacy, saying she only wanted “justice to be served” and to “be left alone.”

In his remarks, Trump also again mentioned the killing of Laken Riley, a nursing student in Georgia, for which a Venezuelan man is charged. Riley’s family attended Trump’s rally in Georgia last month and met with him backstage.

Trump referred to the suspect in Riley’s death as an “illegal alien animal.”

“The Democrats say, ‘Please don’t call them animals. They’re humans.’ I said, ‘No, they’re not humans, they’re not humans, they’re animals,’” he said.

FBI statistics show overall violent crime dropped again in the U.S. last year, continuing a downward trend after a pandemic-era spike. In Michigan, violent crime hit a three-year low in 2022, the most recent available data. Crime in Michigan’s largest city, Detroit, is also down, with the fewest homicides last year since 1966.

Top Republicans from across Michigan had packed into a conference room in downtown Grand Rapids to hear Trump speak in a county he won in 2016 but lost to Biden in 2020. Outside the event center, over 100 supporters stood in a cold rain to line the street where Trump’s motorcade was expected to pass.

At a nearby park, a small group advocating for immigration reform gathered to hold a moment of silence for Garcia while holding signs that read “No human being is illegal” and “Michigan welcomes immigrants.”

Biden’s campaign, which has been hammering Trump for his role in killing a bipartisan border deal that would have added more than 1,500 new Customs and Border Protection personnel, in addition to other restrictions, preempted the speech by accusing Trump of politicizing the death.

“Tomorrow, Donald Trump is coming to Grand Rapids where he is expected to once again try to politicize a tragedy and sow hate and division to hide from his own record of failing Michiganders,” said Alyssa Bradley, the Biden campaign’s Michigan communications director.

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