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U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a campaign rally at the Hertz Arena in Estero, Florida on Oct 31. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Trump sparks outrage over tweet with anti-immigrant ad

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump continued to promote an anti-immigrant narrative Wednesday as he made a final midterm appeal to voters, tweeting a video alleging Democrats were responsible for allowing a convicted cop killer into the U.S.

He is providing no evidence to support his claim.

The video shows a Latino man in court, smiling menacingly. His words are clear: He’s killed cops and he’s “gonna kill more cops soon.”

The man in the video, Luis Bracamontes, is an immigrant in the country illegally who was convicted this year of murdering two law enforcement officials.

The expletive-filled video was immediately denounced by some Democrats and Republicans alike as racist.

Bracamontes, a twice-deported immigrant from Mexico, was sentenced to death in California for the 2014 killings. The 53-second spot includes expletives uttered by Bracamontes during his trial as he professed regret at not killing more officers.

“Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!” the video states, adding, “Democrats let him into our country … Democrats let him stay.” It includes scenes of a migrant caravan moving toward the U.S., warning ominously, “Who else would Democrats let in?”

A caravan traveling from Honduras and making its way toward the U.S. began is made up of about 4,000 migrants who are reportedly fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. The caravan is 900 miles away from the U.S. border. A similar caravan headed for the U.S. received widespread attention in April. Its numbers shrank from more than 1,000 to about 200 before it reached the U.S.

Research shows immigration is not associated with increases in crime, and commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.

The ad was reminiscent of the infamous “Willie Horton” ad used against Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988 and condemned as racist. Horton, who was black, raped a woman while out of prison on a weekend furlough. As Massachusetts governor, Dukakis supported the furlough program. Dukakis went on to lose to Republican George H.W. Bush.

The video tweeted by Trump did not immediately appear to be running on television, although it received extensive coverage on cable news networks. As of Thursday morning, it had received 2.65 million views in less than 24 hours and was the “pinned” tweet atop Trump’s profile, meaning it is the first thing any visitor to his Twitter page would see. Bracamontes was also featured in a January ad from the Trump campaign that received less attention.

The White House and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comments as to who made or paid for the video or if any tax dollars were used to run it from the president’s account. It stood in stark contrast to an ad circulated by the Trump campaign earlier in the week that highlighted rosy economic numbers and depicted gauzy scenes of American suburban life.

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called the new ad the “dog whistle of all dog whistles.”

“This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst,” Perez said on CNN. “This is fearmongering.”

Al Cardenas, former head of the American Conservative Union, tweeted at Trump: “You are a despicable divider; the worse social poison to afflict our country in decades. This ad, and your full approval of it, will condemn you and your bigoted legacy forever in the annals of America’s history books.”

The Associated Press’ Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller and the PBS NewsHour’s Gretchen Frazee contributed to this story.

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