Donald Trump has released a political campaign ad ahead of next week’s crucial midterm elections in which he implies all those seeking asylum in the US are potential cop killers.
The 53-second ad, which the President has tweeted and pinned to the top of his profile, begins with footage of Luis Bracamontes, who in April was sentenced to death for shooting dead two police officers in 2014.
The Mexican gained notoriety during his court appearances when he smiled and applauded his verdict, saying his only regret was he “didn’t kill more of those motherfuckers”
He was in the country illegally when he committed the murders, having already been deported twice.
The ad then blames Democrats for letting him into the country, before cutting to carefully selected footage of the so-called “migrant caravan” – around 4,000 people currently walking to the US from Central America to seek asylum.
It then asks “who else would the Democrats let in?” before ending on a still of Bracamontes’ smiling face.
The ad has prompted a heavy backlash, with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez calling it “fear-mongering”.
He added: “This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst.”
Trump rejected the idea he was “fear-mongering” or using the issue for political purposes.
But in the waning days of the campaign season before next week’s midterm elections, the President has railed against illegal immigration and accused the US media of downplaying the number of people heading for the border, saying: “You have caravans coming up that look a lot larger than it’s reported actually.”
“I’m pretty good at estimating crowd size. And I’ll tell you they look a lot bigger than people would think,” he told ABC.
Trump is infamous for, among other things, grossly misestimating the size of his inauguration crowd size.
In reality, the caravan is mostly made up of people who plan to legally seek asylum at ports of entry. Many, including children, are braving illness, squalor and the threat of death as they make their way north mainly on foot.
Trump has said 15,000 troops are to be sent to the US-Mexico border to deal with the caravans, but does not appear to have told his own military.
This week he also asserted he could act by executive order to unilaterally end birthright citizenship for the children of non-US citizens.
Officials said they had no plans to deploy as many as 15,000 troops. The number conceivably could reach 10,000, counting the 2,100 National Guard soldiers who have been operating along the border for months as part of a separate but related mission.
The number of active-duty troops tapped for deployment stood at 7,000 as of Wednesday, but could reach 8,000.
A deployment of 15,000 would bring the military commitment on the border to roughly the same level as in Afghanistan and would more than double the number of people thought to be in the caravans.