In Grand Rapids, Trump claims Biden has allowed the border crisis to reach “every city.”

By | April 2, 2024

GRAND RAPIDS — Despite being more than 1,100 miles from the U.S. southern border with Mexico, a western Michigan city was at the center of the debate Tuesday as a former president Donald Trump campaigned for border security in Grand Rapids.

Trump attacked president Joe BidenThe record at the border, arguing that under Biden’s watch, the US is experiencing a spike in crime caused by a wave of undocumented migrants entering the US. ran for president.

Trump’s visit comes just over a week after Ruby Garcia, a 25-year-old Grand Rapids woman, was found dead on US 131 of gunshot wounds. Local authorities have charged 25-year-old Brandon Ortiz-Vite with murder, open murder, carjacking, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm after Michigan State Police troopers found Garcia’s body on a highway late Friday, March 22 had found. Garcia and Ortiz-Vite were dating, law enforcement officials said at a recent news conference.

Michigan will again be a crucial state for either candidate’s chances of winning the presidential election this fall, and Kent County, where Trump spoke on Tuesday, is a growing battleground in the state. With the exception of the 2012 election, the winner of Kent County has won the entire state since 2008, including Trump in 2016 and then Biden in 2020, when he flipped Michigan.

“Under ‘crooked’ Joe Biden, every state is now a border state, every city is now a border town, because Joe Biden has brought the carnage, chaos and murder from all over the world and dumped it straight into our backyards,” said Trump. said.

Ortiz-Vite was in the U.S. illegally and had been deported earlier in 2020 after his status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program expired, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Republicans argue that Ortiz-Vite would not have been in the U.S. had a more restrictive policy been implemented at the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

“This monster had been deported, thrown out of the country and wouldn’t be able to come back,” Trump said of Ortiz-Vite.

Steve Kenyon of Grand Rapids, pictured here with his therapy dog

Steve Kenyon of Grand Rapids, pictured here with his therapy dog ​​”Scout,” demonstrated outside the DeVos Place Convention Center in favor of former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

But Democrats are characterizing Trump’s trip to Grand Rapids as exploiting Garcia’s death for political gain. In a media call ahead of Trump’s remarks, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, said: “Ruby Garcia’s death was a terrible tragedy, and so is every life destroyed by violence, including domestic violence, no matter who commits the crime, period. But unfortunately, Donald Trump and MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans are determined to exploit Ruby’s death for their own politics. To be honest, I find it embarrassing.” Stabenow also said there are “very real security concerns at the border.”

Outside the location: Trump supporters and opponents brave cold and rain ahead of the campaign stop in Grand Rapids

Trump delivered remarks to a crowd of invited guests at a convention center in downtown Grand Rapids. He spoke for about 40 minutes, spending most of his remarks on the situation at the US southern border and criticizing Biden’s record there. He was joined by a group of elected Republicans, including U.S. Reps. John James, Tim Walberg, John Moolenaar and U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rogers, whom he has endorsed.

Two sheriffs from southwestern Michigan counties, Daniel Abbott of Van Buren County and Frank Baker of Allegan County, also expressed support for Trump. Baker said illegal narcotics, including methamphetamine and fentanyl, “are devastating our communities, and the only way we can do anything is to secure the border.”

Trump also highlighted recent reports from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office that “transnational gangs” have broken into and burglarized luxury homes.

Before his remarks, Trump campaign officials presented the media with a package highlighting Garcia’s death, as well as the death of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old who was killed while jogging on the University of Georgia campus in February. A Venezuelan national who immigration officials say was in the U.S. illegally has been charged with murder and other crimes in connection with Riley’s death, according to the Associated Press.

Border crossings have reached record numbers in recent months: In December, there were more than 300,000 enforcement encounters at the border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, and while that number dropped to about 190,000 in February, it still remained above the number of encounters for the same month in the previous years of Biden’s presidency.

Although Trump has described the situation as a “bloodbath at the border,” there is a lack of data indicating an increase in violent crimes committed by undocumented migrants. Research shows the opposite: A series of studies have found that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S.-born Americans.

Democrats are quick to note that there was a border bill on the table in Congress — a bipartisan border bill sponsored by Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, aimed at limiting border crossings at the southern border, received support from Democrats and Biden. But Republicans in the House of Representatives rejected the bill in February, calling it too weak. Trump also spoke out against the bill, calling it a “great gift to the Democrats” and Biden. House Republicans passed a tougher border security bill last May, though it had little chance of passage in the Democratic-led Senate.

Republicans generally view ongoing concerns about undocumented migrants crossing the country’s southern border with Mexico as a winning issue for them in the upcoming presidential election. A Pew Research Center survey of 5,140 people conducted Jan. 16 to 21 found that 78% of Americans said the large number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. through the U.S.-Mexico border is a crisis or a major problem is.

More: The political debate over border security encroaches on Western Michigan as Trump visits

Democrats, however, argue they can also win on immigration, pointing to U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., winning a special election in a seat previously held by a Republican after voting on immigration had made it a central point of his campaign. Whether Suozzi’s strategy transcends the national level, especially as polls show the situation at the borders is increasing, remains to be seen.

Supporters stand across the street from DeVos Place before Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at the Monroe Meeting Rooms at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.Supporters stand across the street from DeVos Place before Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at the Monroe Meeting Rooms at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

Supporters stand across the street from DeVos Place before Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at the Monroe Meeting Rooms at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

A crowd of several hundred people gathered outside the convention hall where Trump spoke after Kent’s Republican Party organized a rally in support of the former president. A group of Biden supporters also gathered, braving the rain to protest the former president’s visit.

Before the event began, Trump also held a roundtable discussion with elected Republicans and law enforcement officials. During Trump’s main speech, James Tignanelli, president of the Police Officers Association of Michigan, urged Trump to support legislation that would make the killing of a law enforcement officer punishable by death.

Contact Arpan Lobo: Follow him on X (Twitter) @arpanlobo.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: After the killing of a Grand Rapids woman, Trump campaigns for border security

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