During last-minute campaigning for the midterms, President Trump is repeating the same xenophobic conspiracy theories held by the man suspected of shooting 11 people to death in a Pittsburgh synagogue last week.
On Wednesday, Trump released a campaign ad that has been condemned as unabashedly racist — so much so that some journalists have refused to share it on social media.
The ad shows courtroom footage of Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant convicted of killing a police officer, with the captions, “Democrats let him into our country” and “Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!” It segues into footage of migrants and the words, “Who else would Democrats let in?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
The ad echoes the anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic sentiments that authorities say led Robert Bowers to gun down 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue last weekend.
Their evidence: Bowers’ own words. Immediately before the killing spree, Bowers posted on Gab.com (a social network popular among the far right) that the Jewish refugee organization HIAS “likes to bring invaders that kill our people.”
Trump has made the “migrant caravan” — a group of people fleeing violence in Central America, some of whom might reach the U.S. border to apply for asylum in two months — a central talking point of the midterms. Today, he said he’d send 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border (more than are currently in Afghanistan) and called the caravan “an invasion of our country.”
Faced with underwater approval ratings among women, millennials and independents — along with polls that show Democrats regaining control of the House next week —Trump has doubled down on appealing to his base. He has been campaigning for Republican candidates at raucous rallies around the country, saying the election is a referendum on him. But Trump’s major legislative accomplishment is a tough sell to his core audience, which is struggling economically: The GOP’s deficit-busting $1.5 trillion tax cut predominantly benefits the wealthy.
So Trump has returned to the anti-immigrant rhetoric that kicked off his presidential campaign.
Trump has said that Middle Eastern terrorists are among the caravan. That is not true. During an impromptu interview yesterday, he reinforced another false conspiracy theory: That Democratic donor George Soros is funding the caravan. That is also not true.
In reality, several studies show that immigrants are far less likely to commit violent crimes than native-born citizens, and cities which have seen a higher influx of immigrants have also seen crime drop over the last several decades.