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President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent tens of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads targeting recent immigrants in battleground states — not blaming them for violence or disease, but asking for their votes, in Spanish, and conceding that they came to the United States in search of a better life.
“You came to this country to live a more peaceful and safe life,” the 30-second ad asserts, the narration accompanied by images of young Latino men, taking a turn from Trump’s previous rhetoric about immigrants and why they come to the US.
However, its central claim is more typical for Trump: that Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are “puppets of the radical left, a gang that prefers anarchy and chaos.”
The video is accompanied by Spanish-language text, stating that “Socialist Joe Biden has embraced the extreme policies of the left.”
The ad campaign has been seen more than 900,000 times, per Facebook, chiefly targeting voters in Arizona, as well as Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. The Trump campaign has spent at least $25,000 on it so far.
More than 23 million naturalized US citizens are eligible to vote in November, accounting for nearly 10% of the electorate, according to the Pew Research Center. Immigrants from Mexico make up the single largest group, with Latinos accounting for more than a third of foreign-born voters.
The Trump campaign’s October appeal to these voters stands in contrast to the president’s own rhetoric and policy record. His last presidential campaign launched with the claim that Mexico “was not sending their best” — over a quarter of Arizona’s population is of Mexican descent — and, in office, he has worked to slash refugee admissions and other forms of legal immigration.
Although the ad targets immigrants with negative views of socialism, the Trump administration has refused to grant Temporary Protective Status to people fleeing political repression and violence in nominally socialist countries, such as Venezuela and Nicaragua, even collaborating with governments it describes as “authoritarian” to expedite deportations.
The Trump administration has also targeted foreign-born US citizens, in 2018 announcing the creation of a “denaturalization task force” aimed at stripping citizenship from immigrants who, upon further investigation, may have committed crimes that could have prevented them from being naturalized.
The Trump campaign’s English-language Facebook ads strike a different, albeit familiar note. Rather than herald immigrants’ flight from chaos, a recent campaign ad portrayed them as carriers of disease, warning of “the health risks” posed by accepting refugees.
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