Ruby Garcia's family found Trump's comments about her killing 'shocking'

Donald Trump in Grand Rapids on 3 April
Donald Trump has referred to undocumented migrants as 'animals' and linked them to violent crime in US cities. [Getty Images]

The family of a murdered woman has angrily disputed Donald Trump's claim that he spoke to them.

At a Tuesday rally, Mr Trump used the alleged killing of 25-year-old Ruby Garcia by an undocumented immigrant to illustrate his strong stances on immigration and crime.

"She lit up that room, and I've heard that from so many people," Mr Trump said. "I spoke to some of her family."

But Ms Garcia's sister said they never talked to Mr Trump or his campaign.

"He did not speak with us, so it was kind of shocking seeing that he had said that he had spoke with us, and misinforming people on live TV," she said in an interview with local news network Target 8. "The focus should be on my sister right now, who she was in life."

According to authorities, Ruby Garcia was found shot dead on a highway near the city of Grand Rapids in Michigan on 22 March.

A Mexican national in the US illegally, Brandon Ortiz-Vite - who was the victim's boyfriend - was arrested days later and allegedly confessed. Authorities later said he entered the country as a child and had previously been deported in September 2020, when Mr Trump was still in office.

In his speech in Grand Rapids, Mr Trump used the murder to highlight what he termed President Joe Biden's "border bloodbath".

Mavi Garcia said she wishes that Mr Ortiz-Vite had "stayed in Mexico", but that she does not tie her sister's death to immigration.

"It's always been about illegal immigrants," she added. "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 BBC has contacted the Trump campaign for comment.

Border security, as well as immigration and a perception - not supported by statistics - that it is tied to violent crime, are common features of Mr Trump's rallies and campaign speeches.

On Tuesday, for example, he referred to undocumented immigrants as "animals" and "not humans".

Polls show that immigration, including the border, is a primary concern for many American voters.

Some 61% of Americans in a recent Monmouth survey listed illegal immigration as a "very serious problem", with a majority of respondents for the first time saying they support Mr Trump's proposal of building a US-Mexico border wall.