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Days before the 2018 midterm elections, President Donald Trump tweeted a racist ad that draws comparisons between Central American immigrants seeking refuge in the U.S. and one man convicted of the murder of two policemen.
The ad, tweeted to Trump’s account on Wednesday, intermingles footage of convicted murderer Luis Bracamontes and images of the caravan of Central American migrants headed to the U.S. for asylum. The spot begins with footage of Bracamontes, who was found guilty of killing two California officers in February, saying in court that he wants to kill “more” policemen. “Democrats let him into our country,” the ad reads. “Democrats let him stay.”
Bracamontes, a Mexican immigrant who was deported and returned to the U.S., was sentenced to the death penalty in a Sacramento court in April.
The ad proceeds to show footage of the Central American caravan of asylum-seekers currently in Mexico and seeking to arrive in the U.S. In a segment following, it excerpts a Fox News segment with a deported migrant who wants to apply for pardon for attempted murder. “Who else would Democrats let in?” the ad asks, before freeze-framing on Bracamontes’ face once more. “President Donald J. Trump and Republicans are making America safe again!” it concludes.
The spot was swiftly denounced on Wednesday by pundits who compared it to the 1988 “Willie Horton” campaign ad that supported then-candidate George Bush. Attacking challenger Michael Dukakis’ prison furlough program in Massachusetts while he was governor, the ad cherry-picked an incident in which convicted felon Willie Horton raped a woman while on furlough, and has been widely denounced as racist in years since.
“This may be the most desperate and vile ad since Willie Horton. Trump and Republicans don’t want to talk about the fact that they plan to repeal the ACA, gut Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid, and cut taxes even further for their donors, so they’ve resorted to fearmongering,” University of California, Berkeley public policy professor and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich tweeted.
“Thirty years ago, George H.W. Bush released his infamous fear-mongering, racist ad on Willie Horton. This Trump ad is worse. Far worse,” ProPublica deputy managing editor Eric Umansky added.
Trump has boosted American troops sent to the border and repeatedly criticized the caravan of migrants in an attempt to rally Republicans to turn out during the midterm elections. He has previously said the caravan is filled with criminals and Middle Easterners but provided no evidence for the unsubstantiated claims.
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