Donald Trump released a video on Monday attacking fellow GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush for his comments about undocumented immigrant families, attempting to associate the former Florida governor with three undocumented men who have been charged with murder.
The video implies that Bush supports policies that allow undocumented criminals -- Trump seems to think many, if not most, unauthorized immigrants belong in this category -- to remain in the United States. Trump's attack features a clip of Bush from last year talking about people who come to the U.S. to provide for their children, but omits the context -- that he was talking specifically about families.
"Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony," Bush says in the clip. "It’s an act of love."
But what Bush said immediately beforehand casts the remarks in a different light.
"The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families -- the dad who loved their children -- was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table," he said at the time. "And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family."
Trump's video features images of three undocumented men who were charged with murder this year. The first, Francisco Sanchez, was charged last month with the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco. He had been deported five times beforehand, but was released after serving prison time under San Francisco's policies, which call for limited cooperation with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The second man pictured is Santana Gaona, who was sentenced to 50 years in prison earlier this year for a 2011 murder. Brian Omar Hyde, the third man, was charged this month with murdering his aunt, his pregnant cousin and another man.
"Love?" the video asks in all-caps letters. "Forget love. It's time to get tough!"
The ad quickly drew comparisons to the infamous Willie Horton ad, which aired during the 1988 presidential race between Vice President George H.W. Bush -- the former Florida governor's father -- and Democrat Michael Dukakis. The racially charged ad was created by an outside group supporting Bush, who went on to win the election, and criticized Dukakis for supporting a furlough program for prisoners. Horton, a black man, had raped a woman after being released on furlough.
As Trump has noted, there have been other examples of violence by undocumented immigrants. But violent criminals make up only a fraction of the undocumented immigrant population in the U.S., which numbers 11 million people. ThinkProgress points out that undocumented immigrants have also been killed by native-born Americans, who, as a whole, are more likely to commit serious crimes than immigrants.
Bush supports a pathway to legal status for some undocumented immigrants, but Trump's implication that he supports allowing murderers to remain in the country is disingenuous. In the wake of Steinle's murder, Bush called for a crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities," such as San Francisco, that do not cooperate with ICE. He said jurisdictions that do not work with immigration enforcement should be denied federal law enforcement grants.
The Bush campaign responded to the video with a statement criticizing Trump for being soft on crime.
"While Donald Trump was still supporting liberal, soft-on-crime politicians, Jeb Bush accumulated an eight-year record of cracking down on violent criminals as governor of Florida," said Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Bush. "Mr. Trump's immigration plan is not conservative; would violate the Constitution; and would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, which he will likely attempt to pay for through massive tax hikes."