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Trump's Heart of Darkness

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On August 17th, Donald Trump once again shook up his campaign. While there were early indications that Trump would "soften" his image, these were refuted by the August 19th release of his first general election campaign ad, "Two Americas: Immigration." This TV ad stems from the same darkness that fueled Trump's acceptance speech: bigotry and hate.

Trump's ad packs four lies into 30 seconds. It begins with a familiar Trump assertion: "In Hillary Clinton's American the system stays rigged against Americans." (It goes on to proclaim that immigrants are gaming the system.) Politifact notes that Trump has often claimed "the US election system is rigged." It rates these claims totally false ("Pants on Fire"). More specifically, The Dallas Morning News reported that immigration has "slowed sharply" and illegal immigration "is near record lows."

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Trump's next assertion is that "Syrian refugees flood in." According to the New York Times the US plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees this year but as of the end of April had only take 1726. While Donald Trump asserts, "there is no system to vet Syrian refugees," Politifact states this is another Trump lie; the process takes one to two years. Most of those accepted have been women and children.

The ad follows with a three-part assertion: "Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay, collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line." The Huffington Post acknowledges that "Some people convicted of crimes considered minor are able to avoid deportation, and others stay because their home countries won't take them back." However, the number of these cases pales in comparison to the deportations -- 460,000 in fiscal 2015.

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The most controversial part of the Trump ad is the assertion that illegal immigrants get to collect social security benefits. The Washington Post gives this claim "four Pinocchio's" for extreme falsehood. Most undocumented immigrants pay into Social Security but receive no benefits.

The reference that Trump gives for his "illegal immigrants get to collect social security benefits" assertion is an April paper by The Center for Immigration Studies, a right-wing anti-immigration organization. MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow reported: "The Center for Immigration Studies, for example, will distribute essays from Holocaust deniers every now and again" They keep finding themselves digesting and sending around work by white nationalists" You slip back into that really fast when you're circulating arguments like, "the native ethnic stock that founded and built the U.S. is systematically being replaced through massive third world immigration.' "

That's right. In his first ad, Trump cites a racist organization.

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The ad's fourth assertion is "[Under Hillary Clinton] our border [would be] open." On her campaign web site Clinton calls for a continuation of the Obama border-security, "Hillary will focus resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety, and ensure refugees who seek asylum in the U.S. have a fair chance to tell their stories." (Unlike Trump, Clinton is for "comprehensive immigration reform.") Factcheck.org says the Trump ad, "misleads the viewer."

In her August 25th Reno speech, Hillary Clinton addressed Trump's hateful rhetoric. "Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party." "This is not Republicanism as we have know it. These are race-baiting ideas, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas, anti-woman ---- all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the 'Alt-Right.'" "We need good debates. But we need to do it in a respectful way, not finger pointing and blaming and stirring up this bigotry and prejudice."

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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