Published: 17:14, April 3, 2024 | Updated: 17:18, April 3, 2024
Focus on illegal immigration: Trump calls migrants 'animals'
By Reuters

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump does a little dance after speaking, April 2, 2024, at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (PHOTO / AP)

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin - Donald Trump called immigrants illegally in the United States "animals" and "not human" in a speech in Michigan on Tuesday, resorting to the degrading rhetoric he has employed time and again on the campaign trail.

The Republican presidential candidate, appearing with several law enforcement officers, described in detail several criminal cases involving suspects in the country illegally and warned that violence and chaos would consume America if he did not win the Nov 5 election.

While speaking of Laken Riley - a 22-year-old nursing student from Georgia allegedly murdered by a Venezuelan immigrant in the country illegally - Trump said some immigrants were sub-human

In a later speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, he struck a similarly foreboding tone, describing the 2024 election as the nation's "final battle."

While speaking of Laken Riley - a 22-year-old nursing student from Georgia allegedly murdered by a Venezuelan immigrant in the country illegally - Trump said some immigrants were sub-human.

"The Democrats say, 'Please don't call them animals. They're humans.' I said, 'No, they're not humans, they're not humans, they're animals,'" said Trump, president from 2017 to 2021.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trump described meeting the family of Ruby Garcia, a local 25-year-old murdered last month by a suspect in the country illegally, according to police. Garcia's sister denied the former president spoke with the family, according to local media reports.

In stump speeches, Trump frequently claims that immigrants crossing the border with Mexico illegally have escaped from prisons and asylums in their home countries and are fueling violent crime in the United States.

While available data on criminals' immigration status is sparse, researchers say people living in the US illegally do not commit violent crimes at a higher rate than native-born citizens.

Democratic President Joe Biden, Trump's rival in the November presidential election, accuses Trump of encouraging Republicans in Congress not to pass legislation this year that would have beefed up security at the southern border and introduced measures aimed at reducing illegal immigration.

"Donald Trump is engaging in extreme rhetoric that promotes division, hate and violence in our country," Michael Tyler, Biden campaign communications director, told reporters on Tuesday ahead of Trump's speeches.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks, April 2, 2024, at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (PHOTO / AP)

Trump titled his Michigan speech "Biden's border bloodbath," and said he met family members of Garcia, who was allegedly murdered last month in her car by Brandon Ortiz-Vite, 25, whom she was dating.

"They said she had just this most contagious laughter, and when she walked into a room, she lit up that room, and I've heard that from so many people. I spoke to some of her family," Trump said.

Trump frequently claims without evidence that migrants have caused a spike in violent crime in US cities

Mavi Garcia, Ruby Garcia's sister, disputed that account, according to local television stations.

"He did not speak with any of us, so it was kind of shocking seeing that he had said that he had spoken with us," Mavi Garcia was quoted as saying by a local NBC affiliate.

Reuters was not able to immediately contact Garcia's family. A Trump campaign representative declined to comment on the record.

The murders of Garcia and Riley have allowed Trump's campaign to play simultaneously to some voters' fears about violent crime and immigration.

Some 38 percent of Republicans cited immigration as the country's top issue in a Reuters/Ipsos poll released in late February, as did about one in five independents. Trump frequently claims without evidence that migrants have caused a spike in violent crime in US cities. On Tuesday, he repeated an unfounded claim that Latin American nations are intentionally sending their criminals to the United States.

Supporters cheer as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks, April 2, 2024, at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (PHOTO / AP)

Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary

During his evening speech in Wisconsin, Trump pledged he would stop the "plunder, rape, slaughter and destruction of our American suburbs, cities and towns."

He also warned that the coming election could be America's last.

Michigan and Wisconsin are two swing states that could determine whether Biden or Trump occupies the White House next year

"This country is finished if we don't win this election," he said. "And I heard somebody say ... two or three days ago, said, if we don't win, this may be the last election our country ever has. And there could be truth to it."

Michigan and Wisconsin are two swing states that could determine whether Biden or Trump occupies the White House next year.

In the 2020 election, Biden beat Trump in Wisconsin by less than one percentage point and in Michigan by less than three. Both states are expected to be extremely close again this year.

Although both Trump and Biden have mathematically clinched their presidential nominations, they will be on their party's presidential primary ballots in Wisconsin on Tuesday.

The Biden team will be watching for protest votes by Democrats angry over the president's strong support of Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

In February's presidential primary in Michigan, a state with a large Muslim population, Biden easily won the primary but more than 100,000 Democrats voted "uncommitted", instead of for Biden, as a protest over his Gaza policy.

A similar option is available in Wisconsin on Tuesday. The protest campaign's goal is to get 20,682 voters to mark their ballots "uninstructed", Wisconsin's version of "uncommitted". The number is significant because it represents Biden's winning margin over Trump in the state in 2020.