Whitmer calls Trump’s comments on border security ‘baloney’

By Michigan Advance

April 4, 2024


MICHIGAN—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer clapped back at comments made by former President Donald Trump while he was in Grand Rapids Tuesday for a campaign event.

Whitmer, a Democrat, said Trump’s visit, which was arranged to criticize border policies under President Joe Biden, was made “to score political points” and blasted Trump’s assertion that as president he had done everything to keep the nation safe as “baloney.”

Whitmer made the comments Tuesday night on CNN’s “The Source with Kaitlan Collins” in reaction to Trump’s visit earlier in the day for an event with Michigan GOP leaders and several county sheriffs to discuss the murder last month of 25-year-old Ruby Garcia of Grand Rapids, who police allege was killed by her boyfriend while in the country illegally.

“There is a family that is grieving the loss of Ruby Garcia, and she was a real person, with a real story, and it’s a horrible story that happened,” said Whitmer, who added that the former president’s visit to Michigan was “capitalizing on a horrible tragedy that happened here,” referring to Garcia’s March 22 killing.

Charged in her death is Brandon Ortiz-Vite, 25, who was previously deported to Mexico in 2020.  According to Grand Rapids court records obtained by the Michigan Advance, two days after Garcia’s death, Ortiz-Vite called 911 wanting to turn himself in for the murder, telling Michigan State Police he shot Garcia multiple times during an argument. Records show that in addition to the gunshot wounds, multiple which were in her head, Garcia had also been run over.

“This monster had been deported, thrown out of the country, wasn’t going to be able to come back. … But he came back,” said Trump. “We threw him out of the country and crooked Joe Biden let him back in and let him stay and he viciously killed Ruby.”

Trump also claimed that he had spoken to Garcia’s family. But Garcia’s sister, Mavi Garcia, told the media that the former president had not.

While Ortiz-Vite was deported back to Mexico on Sept. 29, 2020, following his arrest in Grand Rapids for driving while intoxicated, it is not known whether he re-entered the country illegally during the last few months of the Trump administration, or after Biden took office.

Whitmer, who serves as a co-chair for Biden’s reelection campaign, also strongly refuted Trump’s portrayal of his administration’s success at security on the southern border.

“We know that under the Trump administration, he actually called me, the governor of Michigan, to ask that we send the national guard to help with surveillance on the southern border, and we helped him out because he couldn’t get it done,” said Whitmer. “He torpedoed a deal that would have had the strongest border security in decades in this country that President Biden put on the table. He told the Republicans to walk away, and they did. So I really cannot abide when someone comes in and just tries to score political points off of someone else’s pain, and perpetuates a problem instead of actually trying to solve it.”

Trump also took aim at Michigan’s Newcomer Rental Subsidy program, which provides “Refugees and other Newcomer population-eligible households” up to $500 per month for a year toward housing.

“In other words, Biden and Whitmer are stealing your money to give free housing to illegals and then asking you to quarter these people — put them in your homes and feed them and do everything else,” said Trump. “She’s a terrible governor by the way. Your streets are bad. Your everything’s bad.”

However, that program only provides subsidies to beneficiaries with “an eligible immigration status as defined by the Office of Refugee Resettlement,” which includes “individuals who arrived under the Family Reunification Parole Process for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia, individuals with a pending asylum application, and other immigrant individuals on a case-by-case scenario.”

Trump has frequently bashed Whitmer, who was first elected in 2018 and reelected in 2022, particularly during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, he bragged that he told then-Vice President Mike Pence not to take her calls asking for help with the health crisis.

Whitmer was also asked about Florida’s soon-to-be implemented six-week abortion ban, something Trump declined to comment on when asked Tuesday by reporters.

“I think it just tells you, you gotta watch what the guy does, not listen to what he says,” said Whitmer. “He changes his position all the time on this, but we cannot forget his actions speak louder than any words he’s uttering yesterday or tomorrow. He’s the one that put three court justices on the Supreme Court that overruled Roe v. Wade. … So let’s be very clear that the reason we’ve got this mess is because of Donald Trump. And regardless of what he says his position is now, that fact remains.”

When Whitmer was asked about the bill she signed Monday ending Michigan’s criminal ban on paid surrogacy, the governor mentioned that one of the motivating factors in getting the legislation passed was the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that embryos had the same legal rights as people, which endangered the legality of people using in vitro fertilization (IVF).

“When we saw the Alabama court issue their IVF ruling, we heard Republicans all across the country say, ‘We support IVF, we want families to be able to start; we support the science.’ And yet here in Michigan, when we took this surrogacy prohibition off the books, only two Republicans voted to support that and IVF. And so it just tells you, I think, back to my first point, you can listen to what people say, but you really gotta watch what they do.”

When Collins asked Whitmer her opinion of the Alabama ruling, the host seemed surprised by the answer.

“Who cares what my position is, Kaitlan? What matters is what the parents and their doctor agree is whatever is right for them, how they define it. That’s the only one whose opinion should matter. Not a judge, not a politician, not a governor from a different state. That’s what the fundamental question is here,” said Whitmer.

READ MORE: Dems and pro-immigrant groups push back on Trump’s Grand Rapids visit

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license. 




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