More Xenophobia from POTUS

On Wednesday Trump tweeted out a crass, dishonest ad in hopes of leveraging fear and racism as a political tool.

Earlier this week, Trump posted the following to his Twitter feed:

This is nothing more than a rank attempt at scaring people.  Yes, the individual in the video is a horrible human being.  Yes, he committed his crimes when he was it he country illegally.  But linking his crimes to the caravan (note the “Walking Dead”-like footage of swarming scary brown people) is dishonest.  To states “It is outrageous what Democrats are doing to our Country” is slanderous.  The notion that Luis Bracamontes was let in by Democrats and that Democrats are going to let in the brown hordes to kill police is just a lie.  This is taking a horrible crime, conflating it with a broader, complex policy issue into an ugly, fear-mongering politics.  It isn’t even a dog whistle, it is a direct lie about policy implications, a direct lie about the consequences and nature of the caravan, and it is a direct lie about the Democratic party’s positions, goals, and actions less than a week before a major election. Not only is it not a dog whistle, this isn’t even a surrogate where the president can deny direct knowledge of this ad.  He, personally, shared it with  his over 55 million twitter followers.

This is the President of the United States purposefully twisting facts and using clear propaganda techniques so as to scare American citizens and appeal to their fear of foreigners for crass political gain.

This is indefensible.

I know that most readers of this site will not be surprised by this, but I can only hope that some who want to pretend like Trump is just a normal politicians who happens to be rough around the edges will pay attention to this kind of behavior and understand what he is doing.  I would also like to think it would cause his co-partisans to think about what they are supporting. Alas, this seems rather unlikely.

Beyond the xenophobic propaganda of  it all, here are the facts via the Sacramento Bee: Fact check: Trump’s claim that Democrats let cop killer stay in U.S. is false.

Bracamontes, who is now on death row at San Quentin State Prison for the October 2014 slayings of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Davis Jr., first came into the United States in 1993, when he was 16 and Democrat Bill Clinton was president.

Bracamontes, who grew up in Sinaloa, Mexico, entered the country illegally, crossing into Arizona.

The Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Office has told The Sacramento Bee previously that he was first arrested in Phoenix in 1996. Prosecutors in Phoenix say he was arrested Sept. 25, 1996, on deportable drug offenses related to marijuana possession and sentenced to four months in jail starting in January 1997.

Bracamontes served his time in then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent-city jail, then was handed over to federal immigration agents and deported on June 3, 1997, during Clinton’s second term.

He apparently did not stay in Mexico long. Records in Arizona show he was arrested on drug charges again in Phoenix in 1998, then released “for reasons unknown” by Arpaio’s office. Arpaio is a Republican.

Bracamontes was next arrested May 4, 2001, on marijuana charges in Maricopa County, and deported three days later. Republican George W. Bush was president at the time, and was president when Bracamontes slipped back into the United States a short time later.

The date of his re-entry is not clear, but records show Bracamontes was married in Maricopa County on Feb. 28, 2002, when Bush was president.

By then, Bracamontes had been living near Salt Lake City where he remained until 2014, when he and his wife embarked upon a methamphetamine-fueled trip that ended with their arrests in Placer County after the deputies were killed.

To be clear:  I think it is ridiculous to try and make Bracamontes’ situation into one where one party or the other is responsible.  The harsh reality is that someone like him could have been in the US and committed his crimes regardless of who was in office or what policies were in place (including, by the way, a giant wall).  The facts are relevant only insofar as they show the crass lies of the ad.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Campaign 2018, Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Hal_10000 says:

    Historian Kevin Kruse has a great thread on Twitter comparing this to the infamous Willie Horton ad and saying this was far far worse. The Horton ad was run by an outside group; this was run directly by Trump. And I would add that the Horton ad addressed a real issue: in the midst of a terrible crime wave, Dukakis had vetoed a bill that would have banned furlough for first degree murderers, leading directly to the Horton incident. By contrast, illegal immigration has been cut dramatically, illegals are no more likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans and violent crime is currently at a 60-year low.

    I would never imagine I would see a President touting a Riefenstahl-esque ad against illegals. Now he’s talking about sending the military to the border. This is going to end very very badly.

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  2. Kit says:

    I can only hope that some who want to pretend like Trump is just a normal politicians who happens to be rough around the edges will pay attention to this kind of behavior and understand what he is doing

    Steven, really, just how many people are left to “pay attention” when images of children crying in cages meet with approval? Honestly, anyone pulling the lever for the GOP must be considered as intellectually and morally bankrupt.

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  3. Joe says:

    While I feel your outrage, I think we Americans are already pretty firmly sorted into those who see Trump as the problem and those who seem him as some kind of solution. I don’t think anything, this ad included, is going to move that needle very far, though it might make everybody on both sides yell louder.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    He apparently did not stay in Mexico long. Records in Arizona show he was arrested on drug charges again in Phoenix in 1998, then released “for reasons unknown” by Arpaio’s office.

    Hmmmmmm…….

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Hal_10000:

    illegals are no more likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans

    Two charts demolish the notion that immigrants here illegally commit more crime

    Graph 1: Undocumented immigrants commit less crime than native born citizens

    Graph 2: More undocumented immigrants, less violent crime

  6. @Hal_10000:

    and saying this was far far worse.

    I agree with that assessment.

  7. @Kit:

    Steven, really, just how many people are left to “pay attention” when images of children crying in cages meet with approval?

    There are a ton of people paying marginal (or no) attention. I know this is hard to conceive of if one is engaged.

    There are also a ton of people out there more than willing to rationalize away any number of things.

  8. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There are a ton of people paying marginal (or no) attention. I know this is hard to conceive of if one is engaged.

    I’m just not sure this is true. Do you really think anyone votes Republican just because that’s the way he’s always voted? I strongly suspect that Trump voters know him and love him. They get their news from the usual right-wing swamplands and feel informed, or at least informed enough. Perhaps some portion of Trump’s supporters pick up their views by osmosis, but they are surely the least reachable part of the electorate.

    Bottom line: Anyone voting Republican is a lost cause, forever doomed to be part of the problem.

  9. @Kit:

    Do you really think anyone votes Republican just because that’s the way he’s always voted?

    Oh, absolutely. The evidence is overwhelming that this is the case. Most people, even regular voters, are just not that clued it. The fact that you read this blog means you are an outlier on the issue of political engagement.

  10. Also: there are people still voting GOP because they are rationalizing away stuff like in this post (or ignoring it) because they sincerely believe voting GOP means their policy preferences will be forwarded.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kit:

    I’m just not sure this is true.

    It is true. I know a number of them. Some are just too busy, others are just tired of it all. They vote, they bone up on what is what on the ballot on the weekend before the election.

    Anyone voting Republican is a lost cause,

    A number of them pride themselves on their “independence” (tho most consistently vote one way or the other) and will vote against their biases from time to time just to prove to themselves they aren’t lowly partisans. At this point tho, everybody knows who and what trump is and are fully aware of what they are voting for or against, or they have just decided it doesn’t matter if they vote or not and are allowing others to decide what comes next.

    My wife is one who as much as she despises trump just doesn’t have the energy to to pay attention 365 days a year. She gets off work, drives home listening to a book on tape, and then does her thing when she gets home. The wkend before the election we will go over the ballot and I will explain to her what the amendments and propositions are while never telling her how to vote. And she always votes straight D these days.

  12. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I hope you are right, but even if you are, I just don’t see how any voters on the Right are going to change. When I consider how many of the intellectual elite have defected since Bush, I could just cry.

  13. Kit says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    At this point tho, everybody knows who and what trump is and are fully aware of what they are voting for or against

    I agree. And I find it depressing.

  14. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    @Kit:

    Do you really think anyone votes Republican just because that’s the way he’s always voted?

    Oh, absolutely. The evidence is overwhelming that this is the case. Most people, even regular voters, are just not that clued it. The fact that you read this blog means you are an outlier on the issue of political engagement.

    I think you’re understating it, and I think Kit is very wrong.

    I would lay even money on James Joyner voting for a Republican for House this year, saying to himself that so-and-so isn’t one of the bad ones. And if he doesn’t, it’s going to hurt. Physically hurt, with an upset stomach and a mild weakness that will go along with a sadness.

    Nice guy, that James Joyner: a little slow on some racial issues, but not a racist; loves his country, and found a job where he can help serve it; seems like a good family man; lifelong Republican, but bothered by the worst parts of the Republican Party these days. But partisanship is part of people’s identity, and it’s hard to shake off.

    We’ve been watching his sometimes frustratingly slow change for years, as he comes to recognize that the Republican Party no longer resembles the Republican Party he has voted for (some would say it hasn’t resembled that for decades), and has struggled to find a new home.

    And he follows politics more than 99.9% of the people out there. And those who don’t follow politics closely are often just as driven by habit and identity.

    Clinton was right when she said that half of Trump’s supporters were deplorable. But there’s still that other half, who are just wrong, and who if we can figure out how to talk to them, are persuadable. Possibly slowly, over many years.

    Us we should also be able to recognize that in ourselves.

    It would take a lot to get me to vote for a Republican at any point in the future. If the Democrats nominate someone horrible, I’ll find a way to support them, and assume whatever horrible things they have done are as made up as PizzaGate, or find a way to downplay the horrible.