Two hours into Sunday night’s football game between the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers, NBC aired a new version of a widely repudiated campaign ad from President Donald Trump. The 30-second spot, which featured the image of an unauthorized immigrant cop killer, urged viewers to vote Republican to stop an “invasion” of impoverished Central American migrants walking through Mexico toward the U.S. It was the closing pitch for an administration that spent the week before the midterm elections fabricating an immigration crisis, then blaming Democrats for it.
Almost every day last week, the White House thrust immigration to the center of national politics. The Pentagon announced plans to dispatch some 5,200 troops to the border with Mexico. Trump said he planned to eliminate the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship by executive fiat. He announced a coming plan to bar migrants who cross illegally from claiming asylum and to detain them indefinitely in tent cities. To hear him speak at a press conference on Thursday, it would appear the United States faces an onslaught of illegal immigration.
None of this reflects reality. For the last eight years, arrests for illegal border crossing have been at their lowest levels since the 1970s.
But it does jibe with the strategy of a president who propelled himself to the White House by making specious immigration claims. Facing an election cycle that imperils the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, the president’s message is clear: Voters should blame Democrats for a nonexistent catastrophe at the border.
The ad — which NBC abandoned, along with Fox and Facebook, after a major backlash — is part of Trump’s strategy to drum up fears of the caravan among his base. CNN declined to air it, calling it “racist.” Read more
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