From DACA to Deportation to Murder: Michigan the Latest State Hit by Immigration Enforcement Lapse

Brandon Ortiz-Vite in front of other illegal immigrants (composite image)
by Steven Richards


An illegal immigrant, who once lived in the country as a DACA recipient before he was deported in 2020, was arrested over the weekend as a suspect in the slaying of a 25-year old Michigan woman. The incident is the second shocking murder of a young woman by an illegal immigrant this year, following the killing of Laken Riley in Georgia.

Michigan State Police began investigating the murder of Ruby Garcia, from Grand Rapids, after her body was found on a major highway that cuts through the city’s downtown. The body was discovered at 11:38 pm on Friday evening with apparent gunshot wounds, according to The Midwesterner.

According to local TV stations, Kent County records show the suspect, Brandon Ortiz-Vite, a Mexican citizen, was booked on March 24 by Michigan State Police, two days after the murder, and was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license and operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Murder charges are not listed in the database.

Michigan State Police told Just the News that it would share more information when it became available.

“The victim in this case has been identified as a 25-year-old female from Grand Rapids. The investigation is still very active and updates will be provided when they can be released,” the state police said in a post to X Sunday.

“Detectives from the MSP Grand Rapids post have a person of interest in custody related to the ongoing death investigation on US-131. The investigation continues and details will be released as they come in,” they added.

But Ortiz-Vite’s arrest is just the beginning of the story. A source familiar with the suspect’s immigration status shared details about his tumultuous history with Just the News on Tuesday, likely to raise questions about current immigration enforcement by the Biden administration, much like the case of Laken Riley one month ago.

A senior U.S. official, speaking only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to news media, told Just the News that immigration records show Ortiz-Vite originally established lawful residency in the United States under the Obama Administration’s DACA program but he was deported under the Trump Administration in September 2020 after an arrest for intoxicated driving in Michigan.

There is no evidence in the U.S. immigration records that Ortiz-Vite was ever intercepted again by border patrol after his deportation, meaning he likely snuck across the border as a “gotaway,” the official said.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Congress last October his agency recorded 600,000 “gotaways” in 2023 alone, a fraction of the approximately 3.2 million illegal immigrants encountered by the agency in financial year 2023.

Local court records indicate that Ortiz-Vite also appeared in court in 2018 and was charged with “illegal entry without owners permission.” He was sentenced to time served and community service in January 2018, two years before his deportation on separate charges.

Mavi Garcia, confirmed to local Grand Rapids news that the victim was her sister, Ruby Garcia. She told the outlet her sister worked in a local greenhouse and lived in Grand Rapids.

“Ruby was a great person all around,” Mavi Garcia told FOX 17. “She would brighten up the room with her beautiful smile. She loves to travel, was dedicated to her work, and enjoyed being with her family in her free time.”

Mavi Garcia later identified the alleged suspect publicly on her Facebook page as Ortiz-Vite and told The Midwesterner he was in the United States illegally. Ortiz-Vite’s relationship with the victim is unclear and Mavi Garcia refused to comment on their relationship to the outlet.

“He is currently in custody that’s all we know as of right now and he is/was here illegally,” she said.

This murder comes about one month after another young woman, Laken Riley, was killed in the Georgia college town of Athens. Georgia authorities subsequently arrested and charged an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, Jose Antonio Ibarra.

In a chain of events that mirrors the murder in Michigan, 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley was found dead on February 22 on the University of Georgia campus near Lake Herrick, according to Fox News. Authorities said her body showed signs of blunt force trauma. The investigation found Riley went for a jog but never returned home. A friend later called the police when Riley was unresponsive.

U.S. immigration records reviewed by Just the News in February showed Ibarra entered the country illegally in 2022 and was designated for removal. However, he was given parole under a new Biden administration policy and provided a work permit, the records showed.

Riley’s killing ramped up criticisms from elected Republicans on sanctuary cities and Biden administration border policies. They claimed the tragedy was preventable.

“[If] this border was secure, and Athens not a sanctuary city, Laken Riley would be alive,” Rep. Mike Collins, who represents Athens in Congress, posted to X in February. “She would still be talking to her family, hanging out with friends, studying to be a nurse, and working toward serving her community and saving the lives of others.”

“Instead, she is dead because the people who took an oath to preserve our Constitution and faithfully execute our laws refuse to do so because they think it benefits them politically,” he added.

Though a Georgia law first passed in 2009 outlaws local governments in the state from enacting official sanctuary city policies, jurisdictions like Athens-Clarke County have been able to circumvent the spirit of the law in their discretionary law enforcement policies and non-binding county board resolutions, Just the News previously reported, citing media reports and county documents.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment from Just the News about the Michigan murder.

Immediately upon assuming office in early 2021, President Biden reversed several of President Trump’s signature immigration policies, including lifting the travel ban on 13 Middle Eastern and African countries and halting construction of the border wall between the United States and Mexico, where Ortiz-Vite was deported in 2020.  Biden also directed the Homeland Security Department to preserve President Obama’s DACA program.

Recent polling from Gallup last month shows immigration has become the most widely cited “important problem” facing the country, overtaking the “government” in February. In the same poll, 55 percent of Americans labeled illegal immigration a “critical threat” to the United States, with only 14 percent labeling the issue as “not important.”

President Biden has consistently received negative ratings from voters on his handling of immigration in poll after poll. In an Economist/YouGov poll from late February, voters gave Biden a nearly 60 percent disapproval rating on the issue. In another poll from Monmouth University, national adults gave Biden an even worse rating, a 71 percent disapproval on immigration.

“This story clearly shows the difference in approaches to protecting the American people,” newly elected Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and former Ambassador Pete Hoekstra told Just the News when asked to respond to the murder in his state.

“Donald Trump was for legal immigration, rather than wide-open border which have allowed these kinds of threats to come into the country,” he said. “Joe Biden has failed on securing the border and failed… on deporting people who are threats to Americans,” he added.

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Steven Richards is a reporter at Just the News.
Photo “Brandon Ortiz-Vite” by Kent County Jail; Photo “Illegal Immigrants” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.



Reprinted with permission from Just the News.

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