Trump campaign video uses images of immigrants at Spanish border

Presidential hopeful’s team denies any wrongdoing by including images in advertisement

One of the themes of Donald Trump’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has been a hard line on illegal immigration via the border between the United States and Mexico. For evidence of this, look no further than his first campaign video, which includes grainy images of a large group of people running along a strip of land until they reach a high fence.

Trump will “stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for,” says the voice over on the campaign ad as the footage runs. But the people who appear in the images are not Latin American immigrants, nor was the tape recorded on the southern border of the US, but instead thousands of kilometers away.

The use of these images was intentional and was chosen to demonstrate the serious impact of an open border”

Trump’s communications director, Hope Hicks

In fact, the footage comes from the border of the Spanish North African exclave of Melilla and Morocco. They are images that were released by the Melilla government in 2014 and that were widely disseminated at the time by the Spanish and European press, at a moment of controversy given the Spanish central government’s decision to install razor wire and high walls in the area to stop undocumented migrants from getting through.

The use of the video was quickly discovered by the US website Politifacts, which seeks to corroborate statements and data used by North American politicians. The Trump campaign, however, did not take long to respond to the accusation, saying that while the video did not specify the location in which the footage was recorded, the use of the images was “intentional.”

“The use of this footage was intentional and selected to demonstrate the severe impact of an open border and the very real threat Americans face if we do not immediately build a wall and stop illegal immigration,” reads a statement sent to EL PAÍS by Trump’s communications director, Hope Hicks. According to the property magnate-turned-politician’s team, “the biased mainstream media doesn’t understand, but Americans who want to protect their jobs and their families do.”

English version by Simon Hunter.