April 23, 2024

Donald Trump’s virulent anti-immigration campaign series offered an unexpected shout-out to a group of people who didn’t want it: the family of murder victim Ruby Garcia.

“She lit up that room, and I’ve heard that from so many people,” Trump claimed Tuesday at a news conference in Garcia’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. “I spoke to some of her family.”

But Garcia’s family said that the GOP presidential nominee had never reached out to them. Instead, they were at home, watching as Trump turned their family’s loss into a political stunt.

“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,” Garcia’s sister, Mavi Garcia, told NBC affiliate Target 8, noting that not only had Trump not reached out to the family, but neither had anyone from his campaign.

“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,” she said.

Garcia, 25, was shot and killed on March 22 by Brandon Ortiz-Vite, an undocumented immigrant who confessed to murdering her and dumping her body along a highway in the city. Ortiz-Vite had previously been deported out of the U.S. by court order in 2020, and it was unclear when he had re-entered.

The Trump campaign quickly took notice of the murder, leveraging it as an example of a rising wave in “migrant crime” and claiming that Ortiz-Vite had been “let back in by Joe Biden.” But that’s not the story that Garcia’s family wants Ruby’s name wrapped up in.

“It’s always been about illegal immigrants,” Mavi Garcia told 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 focus should be on my sister right now, who she was in life. I want people to remember who she was in life,” she added, describing Ruby Garcia as a very happy and generous person.

Tuesday’s speech wasn’t even the first time in the last month that Trump lied about his interactions with a grieving family for his own political gain. In March, Trump’s campaign issued a statement claiming that he had been invited to attend the funeral of NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller by his family—but that wasn’t really the case. In reality, the invitation had been extended by Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.