An image is circulating around the internet depicting a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent arresting an alleged undocumented immigrant in the back of a voter line. In one scary tweet originating from a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the individual said that ICE agents are monitoring polling sites.
In reality, both the photo and the tweet itself are fake.
Intended to scare Latino voters from going to the voting booth, the image in the tweet is actually two separate photos stitched together to concoct a completely false story. One photo, used widely by other media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, is from a primary voting location in Arizona from March. The other photo can be found on Wikimedia Commons, according to ProPublica and Univision, which first reported the image composite.
Supporters of Donald Trump have been tweeting the photoshopped image at several Spanish-language media outlets, hoping to rile up readers and dissuade them from voting on Election Day.
For months now, Trump has claimed the election is rigged against him and that some people — especially undocumented immigrants — would commit voter fraud at the behest of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. There have been almost no cases of voter impersonation since 2000, and allegations of mass “vote flipping”—where machines “flip” a vote to another candidate unintended by the voter—have also turned out to be false. In the most recent instance of proven voter fraud, it’s a passionate Trump supporter who was caught voting twice for the Republican candidate.
Trump has tacitly encouraged his supporters to engage in voter intimidation on Election Day, calling on them to “watch” polls in “certain areas,” urban cities like Detroit and Philadelphia, where many black voters live.
But Trump supporters know how to prey on the worst fears of Latino voters as well, like the above tweet. About 27.6 million Latino voters are eligible to vote this year, with Trump’s harsh anti-Latino, anti-immigrant rhetoric spurring at least one Latino voter group to register upwards of 100,000 people to vote in the 2016 election.
What makes this tweet so effective as a voter intimidation tactic is the longstanding history of mistrust with ICE agents among Latino voters with immigrant families. Fears of ICE agents arresting and deporting immigrants aren’t unwarranted. Just in the past year, the Obama administration has authorized a series of raids on recent arrivals from Central America and immigrants with past criminal records. For a while, major Latino business centers became ghost towns that generated little revenue from the lack of business. Latino students — even ones who are U.S. citizen children — complained of phantom illnesses because they were afraid that they or a family member could get picked up. ICE agents have even entered so-called sensitive locations like schools and churches to detain immigrants.