Donald Trump Releases Fearmongering Willie Horton-Style Ad About Undocumented Immigrants


Donald Trump is once again equating undocumented immigrants with criminals, this time through an attack ad released Monday against fellow 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush (R).

The ominous video overlays three photos of undocumented criminals charged with murder with Bush’s infamous quote in which he said immigrants come to the country out of an act of love. The video shared on the social media photo-sharing outlet Instagram ends with a note stating, “Love? Forget Love. It’s time to get tough” along with the slogan “Trump. Make American Great Again.”

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One of the criminals that the Trump video shows is Francisco Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant who was deported five times and shot and killed a U.S. citizen woman in San Francisco in July. Many anti-immigrant groups and lawmakers have seized on the woman’s death to call for a ban on “sanctuary cities,” where local law enforcement officials can choose not to turn undocumented immigrants over to federal immigration authorities for potential deportation proceedings. The other two criminals shown in the video, Santana Gaona and Brian Omar Hyde, similarly killed people after local officials did not turn them over to federal immigration authorities.


The video has drawn some comparisons to President George H.W. Bush’s attack ad against then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis (R), which shows Willie Horton, who killed a white couple after he received a weekend furlough while serving a life sentence for killing a man. The video voice-over indicated that Dukakis granted furloughs to prisoners, like Horton, who then went on to kidnap and rape innocent people. After the Horton ad was released, Bush won by 8 percentage points, Politico recently reported.

Since his campaign launch, Trump has drawn outrage over his suggestion that Mexican immigrants are mostly rapists, drug dealers, and criminals. His immigration policy plan calls for deporting the undocumented population and ending birthright citizenship.

But while Latino voters have already made up their minds about him, it’s likely that Trump is playing up his nativist credentials for his supporters. After Trump ejected Spanish media Univision journalist Jorge Ramos from a press conference last week, a Trump supporter told Ramos, a U.S. citizen to “get out of my country.” Other people who similarly embraced Trump’s bombastic rhetoric also likely hold hostile feelings towards Latinos in general. After Trump delivered a speech to thousands of fans in Mobile, Alabama, a landscaping worker told the New York Times that he hoped to make hunting border crossers into a kind of sport. And two brothers in Boston, inspired by Trump’s rhetoric, beat up and urinated on a homeless Latino man.

Trump’s fearmongering has helped him make inroads with Tea Party supporters and white nationalist groups. But in reality, undocumented immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than the native-born population. The false equivalency can also extend the other way around: Americans kill undocumented immigrants, too. The immigrant mother of two small children was killed by a drunk U.S. citizen driver in March. And seven teenagers, one of whom had a swastika symbol tattooed on his thigh, stabbed a 37-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant to death back in 2008.

Still, if Trump did want to make America great again, he would likely want to keep immigrants in the country. An April 2015 Institute on Taxation and Economy policy study found that undocumented immigrants paid $11.84 billion in state and local taxes in 2012. Immigrants also are 30 percent more likely than non-immigrants to start a business in the country and their businesses create jobs for American workers. And immigrants boost the earnings of American workers by about 0.7 percent, according to a University of California at Davis study.