Communication Law and Ethics

Ad Watch Assignment

Trump’s Illegal Immigration Ad Analyzed:


The Trump Illegal Immigration ad creates a message of fear by opening with a grinning illegal immigrant, a murder, who says he’ll kill more cops in multiple occasions all montaged together. The ad then precedes to say that the Democrats let him in and follows that up with the question of who else will the Democrats let in. It also cuts to scenes of immigrants grouping together and charging the wall on the border and then closes up with the message that Trump and the Republicans will make America safe again.

The ad makes the claim that all illegal immigrants could be murders or worse by opening with Luis Bracamontes, an illegal immigrant who was arresting for murdering cops. The ad claims that Democrats are responsible for letting in murderous illegal immigrants and worse. The ad also shows clips of the immigrants which seem to depict them with an animal like desperation charging the walls and milling around a border wall.

The as doesn’t state whether or not Democrats did anything about Bracamontes. The ad also doesn’t mention any of the deportation or border work the Democrats could have done because it basically implies they do nothing to stop dangerous people from entering the country. The ad also doesn’t give any context to the immigrants at the border, it just takes clips of them desperately trying to cross the border. The ad didn’t omit that it was in support of Trump and the republicans for the midterms, but it waited to reveal it at the end after the video presented its argument against the Democrats and illegal immigration.

The Trump Illegal Immigration ad played on all the major TV networks CNN, NBC, FOX during October 2018. That time period falls during the 2018 US midterm elections and a few months before Trump’s government shutdown in December 2018 due to disagreements for funding the border wall.
The ad was paid for by Trump’s political team. The ad which started on TV is now only available in select places on social media like Trump’s Twitter page.

Reporting Analysis

It was true that Bracamontes did kill two California deputies in October 2014. It’s also true that he ended his trial for the murders by saying, “I’m going to kill more cops soon,” according to The Sacramento Bee, a California newspaper.

It was incorrect for the ad to promote that Democrats were the cause of things like the Baracamontes situation since that wasn’t actually the fault of Democrats. According to Second Nexus, Bracamontes was deported twice before he married a US citizen in 2002. He was first deported for selling drugs by Bill Clinton in 1997 under Democratic reign. He then got back into the country under George W. Bush but was deported in 2001 for illegal immigration, but he got in again in 2002. He was convicted for murder in 2014. It was actually, the Democrats that kept Bracamontes out of the country when he was illegally in the country. Therefore, it was unfair to state that the Democrats did nothing since he illegally entered and married a US citizen under Republican reign. While Bracamontes did commit these murders during Barack Obama’s presidency, it wasn’t the Democrats fault he was in the country at that point.

Another example is the footage at the border in the ad. It visually shows large, wild crowds of immigrants milling up and around the border like they’re pests the wall and border patrol have to stamp out. It also cuts to images of a large crowd of immigrants literally charging and shaking the wall at the border. This portrays an animal like desperation out of context and tries to take away the humanity of the people just looking for better opportunies in the United States.

It was incorrect to imply that all illegal immigrants are murders or worse that need to be feared in the ad. According to Cato Institute, it’s difficult to know whether immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, but according to their research immigrants have a lower incarnation rate and a lower crime rate in their neighborhoods. Therefore a majority of immigrants aren’t commit crime let along murders, so it’s wrong to imply that in the ad.

Ethical analysis

The first letter in TARES stands for truthful. In this ad, it shows an illegal immigrant that did commit a murder; however, immigrants have lower rates of criminal incarnation and have lower crime rates in their neighborhoods. Therefore, it’s not truthful to claim that illegal immigrants will commit murder and worse once they cross the border. Also, while Bracamontes may have murdered cops under the Democratic reign it doesn’t mean the Democrats didn’t try to do anything like the ad implied. In fact, it was the Democrats that deported him for selling drugs initially. Therefore, with the introduction of all this omitted information it makes the ad fail in the truthful category.

The second letter stands for authentic. In the ad, it tries to create a fear of the illegal immigrants crossing the border in the American people. This is most likely done to help push Trump’s plan to build a wall which was the reason the government was fixing to shut down because there wasn’t support for wall funding. Well Trump supporters who believe that immigration is a national emergency would agree the motivation behind attempting to strike fear into the general public, but the majority of people won’t agree the ad takes the right attitude toward the issue. This is evident by the ad being pulled completely off air. Therefore the ad isn’t authentic with it promoting fear of immigrants and it’s rather sneaky trying to gain support for the wall funding by attempting to strike fear into people.

The third letter is respect. The viewers were not treated with respect because they were feed all these negative claims about the Democrats and illegal immigrants without the other side being told. The ad ignored statics about immigration and omitted specific facts about how the Democrats dealt with illegal immigration. It specifically showed a murder that happened under Obama trying to make a point that Democrats don’t handle immigration correctly, but that specific murderer got access to the country under Bush. Therefore, the ad didn’t respect the intelligence of the viewers by trying to strike fear into them with half-truths.

This would also show that the receiver and sender aren’t on the same equal playing field since information is being omitted from the viewer to sway them toward the senders Republican viewpoint. Therefore, the ad also doesn’t have equality.

The ad was not made with social responsibility in mind because it promoted a negative, false sigma toward immigrants and Democrats. This ad fanned the flames of fear toward immigrants and painted them as inhuman, murders to promote an agenda that illegal immigration and border security is something that needs to be handled by Republicans. Therefore, because of the negative stigmas created and the hidden agenda the ad was taken off air completely and is difficult to find online.

As for virtue ethics the ad isn’t that virtuous either. It omits important information is problem a near equivalent to lying which isn’t virtuous. It’s also rare where striking fear into people about a subject is a virtuous action. In this case, the ad attempting to strike fear wasn’t virtuous because it was encouraging hateful treatment toward immigrants. The ad also painted human beings, immigrants, as inhumane, murders when the majority of them are not. The ad wasn’t completely honest omitting information that could have argued against the claims made in it which isn’t virtuous either. Therefore, the ad wasn’t following virtue ethics.

Finally, with loyalty ethics the ad isn’t being loyal to the American people because it isn’t showing the full facts and is making claims that don’t line up once those omitted facts are added up. The ad is betraying the trust of American people because of all the counterarguments the omitted information adds and is attempting to make them more fearful of a situation that doesn’t necessarily need that level of fear. The ad is really only loyal to those wanting a wall because it’s attempting to make an argument in favor of one with people throwing their support behind Trump for border security. Therefore, this ad doesn’t pass the loyalty ethics test either.


The Trump Illegal Immigration ad isn’t ethically because it omits important counter information to that shows the claims in the ad to be half-truth if not lies, paints immigrants as murders or worse when majority aren’t, and fans the flames of fear and hate of immigrants in the American public. The ad failed all the ethics test because it’s promoting the agenda of getting funding for a wall by trying to increase Americans fear of illegal immigration and border security.


Gage, B. (2018, November). Report: Luis Bracamontes was deported under both Clinton and Bush Adminstrations, re-entered while Bush was president, used AR-15. Retrieved from

Nowrasteh, A. (2019, March). Illegal immigrants and crime – assessing the evidence. Retrieved from

Stanton, S. (2018, February). ‘Yay’ says illegal immigrant as jury finds him guilty of murdering deputies. Retrieved from

Trump’s political team. (2018, October). Trump Illegal Immigration Ad. Retrieved from

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