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When he travels to battleground Michigan and Wisconsin, Trump will criticize Biden's handling of the border and crime

Former President Donald Trump will continue to strongly criticize President Joe Biden's border policies during a trip to two crucial midwestern states that could determine the outcome of the 2024 election. Trump will give a speech in Grand Rapids, Michigan,

By JOEY CAPPELLETTI and JILL COLVIN (Associated Press)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Donald Trump will likely criticize President Joe Biden for his management of the U.S.-Mexico border when he visits crucial battleground states Michigan and Wisconsin for the 2024 election.

Trump will start in Grand Rapids, Michigan, giving a speech about what his campaign calls “Biden’s Border Bloodbath.” He will then hold a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on the day the state holds its presidential primaries.

Surveys show that Trump has an advantage over Biden on immigration issues as many potential voters express concern about surging illegal border crossings. In recent weeks, Trump and other members of his party have highlighted several prominent cases of immigrants in the U.S. illegally being charged with crimes, including the killing of Laken Riley, a nursing student in Georgia, for which a Venezuelan man is charged.

On Tuesday, Trump is expected to talk about the killing of Ruby Garcia, a Michigan woman who was discovered dead on the side of a Grand Rapids highway on March 22. Police indicate that she was in a romantic relationship with the suspect, Brandon Ortiz Vite. He confessed to shooting her multiple times during an argument before dumping her body on the side of the road and driving off in her red Mazda.

Officials report that Ortiz Vite is a citizen of Mexico and had been deported previously following a drunk driving arrest. He does not have legal representation listed in court records.

“Under Crooked Joe Biden, EVERY state is now a border state. EVERY town is now a Border Town — because Joe Biden has brought the carnage, chaos, and killing from all over world, and dumped it straight into our own backyards,” Trump spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said in a statement previewing the former president’s speech.

FBI data demonstrates that overall violent crime decreased again in the U.S. last year, continuing a downward trend after a spike during the pandemic. In Michigan, violent crime reached a three-year low in 2022, the most recent data available. Crime in Detroit, Michigan's largest city, has also decreased, with the fewest homicides last year since 1966.

While Riley’s family attended Trump’s rally in Georgia last month and met with him backstage, it was unclear whether Garcia’s family would attend. Trump told conservative Michigan radio host Justin Barclay on Monday that he’d “love to have her family there, if they’d like to be there — it’d be in my honor” and asked him to try to coordinate.

Her sister appealed on Facebook last week for journalists to refrain from politicizing her sister’s story.

Biden’s campaign, which has been criticizing Trump for his role in derailing a bipartisan border deal that would have added over 1,500 new Customs and Border Protection personnel, along with other measures, preempted the speech by accusing Trump of doing the same.

“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.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a member of the Democratic party, said on Monday that there is a serious issue at the southern border and it's very important for Congress and the president to solve it.

Whitmer stated that there was a solution on the table which was actively encouraged by the former president, but Republicans were urged to walk away from it. She expressed frustration with political maneuvers that put the economy and people at risk, as has been seen recently in Grand Rapids.

Trump has been using strong language about the high number of migrants at the southern border since he became the presumptive nominee for his party. He has portrayed migrants as harming the country, questioned whether some should be considered people, and claimed, without proof, that other countries have been sending their prisoners and mentally ill individuals to the U.S.

He has also accused Biden of plotting to overthrow the United States, alleging that Biden is attempting to destabilize the American system, ignore the will of the actual American voters, and establish a new base of power that gives them control for generations.

Republicans in both states are playing catchup as they seem to be significantly behind Democrats in terms of organization, just six months before the first early votes in the general election.

Last week, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Pete Hoekstra told The Associated Press that the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee had not yet made substantial investments for the general election in the state, and there were no staff members for the general election in place.

In recent weeks, Republican lawmakers in Michigan have found themselves in a controversial situation. State Rep. Matthew Maddock falsely stated that buses carrying college athletes to Detroit for March Madness were transporting illegal migrant “invaders” into the city.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Democrats have been promoting their statewide organization, citing the 44 field offices already operational across the state and a staff of over 50 people at the moment.

The Trump campaign has not yet appointed any leaders or organizers for the Wisconsin state party.

The Wisconsin Republican Party has also been significantly out-fundraised in recent years, and the executive director of the state GOP left in March, just months before the national convention in Milwaukee.

Democrats have been celebrating a series of victories, including the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturning Republican-drawn legislative maps, which is expected to lead to Democratic gains.

This will be Trump’s first visit to the state since 2022, when he held a rally to support gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels, who lost to Democratic Governor Tony Evers.

The Trump campaign has announced plans to catch up by opening dozens of offices and hiring hundreds of staff over the next 30 to 45 days.

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