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Family of murder victim Ruby Garcia deny speaking with Trump

Donald Trump’s latest effort to weaponise the death of an American against Joe Biden and his management of the situation at America’s southern border has enraged family members of his most recent target.

After the former president and current presumed nominee for the 2024 Republican nomination told supporters in Grand Rapids, Michigan that he had spoken to relatives of Ruby Garcia, the murdered young woman’s family is speaking out. Mr Trump appeared at a rally in the state on Tuesday as he continues campaigning for the presidency and waxed poetic about Ms Garcia to attendees at the event.

“Now Ruby’s loved ones and community are left grieving for this incredible young woman,” said the former president. “They said she had the most contagious laughter and when she walked into a room she lit up that room.”

He added: “I’ve heard that from so many people. I spoke to some of her family.”

Ms Garcia’s sister says the former president’s words were a complete lie: she told a local news outlet the day of the rally that the former president did not reach out to any member of her direct family — nor did any member of his 2024 campaign team.

She sat there in disbelief, she says, as Mr Trump described supposedly hearing accounts of her sister.

“It was shocking. I kind of stopped watching it. I’d only seen up to that, after I heard a couple of misinformations he said, I just stopped watching it,” said Mavi Garcia, who is also serving as her family’s spokesperson in the wake of her murder. A 25-year-old man whom Ruby Garcia was dating has been arrested and confessed to her murder. The accused, Brandon Ortiz-Vite, is in the country illegally after being removed from the US once before.

Mavi Garcia added in her statement to Target 8 News in Grand Rapids that Mr Trump was frequently seeking to demonise illegal immigrants, and said that she wished he would stop.

“It’s always been about illegal immigrants,” she told the news channel. “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?”

Mr Trump’s focus on immigration comes as the US’s southern border with Mexico remains porous and the site of often thousands of illegal crossings per day. The former president and other Republicans have highlighted crimes including murders committed by people in the United States illegally as both he and Mr Biden agree publicly that the rate of illegal crossings is a threat to national security.

But it also is taking place amid the latest failed effort by Congress to address that very issue. A bipartisan compromise on the issue of border security was voted down by Republicans and some progressives after weeks of negotiations between Democrats and a handful of their GOP rivals who were at the bargaining table with the blessing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The legislation was denied after the Republican House majority made it clear that it was dead on arrival in the lower chamber.

The former president had openly called on Republicans in Congress to walk away from the legislation, frustrating the bill’s GOP negotiators and other Republicans in both chambers who saw the ordeal as having sent a message to voters that lawmakers were not serious about addressing the issue.