The prosecutor in the murder trial in Sacramento of Luis Monroy Bracamontes said, “He is pure evil.” During his trial for the killings on Oct. 24, 2014, of two sheriff’s deputies, Danny Oliver and Michael Davis, Jr., Bracamontes did nothing to disprove that claim. He sneered and yelled profane insults at family members of the victims. He shouted a racial slur at Anthony Holmes, a surviving victim whom Bracamontes shot five times to steal his car. He greeted the jury’s swift verdict on April 25 sentencing him to death with a blood-chilling smile. He said his only regret was not killing more police.
Bracamontes, who is from Mexico, is currently awaiting his penalty on death row in San Quentin.
But this murderer became newly notorious Thursday when President Trump tweeted a video splicing together images of his vicious courtroom outbursts with footage of the migrant caravan in southern Mexico, writing, “It’s outrageous what Democrats are doing to our country.” The video says Democrats “let him in” and “let him stay.”
Here are five reasons why the president’s video is grossly misleading or just plain false. It is fear-mongering propaganda at its most crude.
Bracamontes was “let in” by both Democrats and Republicans. According to police and immigration records, Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant, was first deported in 1997 after an arrest in Arizona on narcotics charges. He returned illegally sometime in the following year, under President Clinton, a Democrat.
He was arrested again in 1998 in Maricopa County, according to the Sacramento Bee, when Joe Arpaio was the sheriff. He was released “for reasons unknown,” police records show. Arpaio is a Republican and a hard-line ally of the president on immigration. Trump issued a pardon to Arpaio in 2017 for a criminal contempt of court conviction.
Bracamontes was deported again in May 2001, immigration records show. He returned illegally soon after, under President George W. Bush, a Republican.
Both Democrats and Republicans “let him stay.” Police records show that Bracamontes moved to Utah sometime before 2003, assuming several aliases. Between 2003 and 2009, he ran up 10 misdemeanor traffic violations. None was serious enough to trigger a criminal fingerprint check, which would have revealed his crime record. All but one year of that period was under President Bush.
A Democrat expanded the criminal fingerprint system that helped identify Bracamontes. In 2010, while Bracamontes was still living in Utah, the state joined a federal program known as Secure Communities that checked the fingerprints of everyone booked into jail against federal immigration databases. The program was started under President Bush and expanded nationwide under President Obama. Bracamontes did not have any new criminal or traffic offenses between 2010 and his lethal rampage in 2014. But the fingerprint system helped to identify him immediately after the killings, immigration officials said.
Bracamontes’ migration history has no relevance to the migrant caravan. Bracamontes is Mexican, and his repeated illegal border crossings came during a huge inflow of Mexicans, coming legally and illegally, which peaked after 2000, at the beginning of the Bush administration. Mexicans generally were economic migrants drawn to the U.S. to seek work.
Border security has been vastly fortified since that time, with enforcement increases by all three presidents. In 2000, there were about 8,500 Border Patrol agents on the southwest border. Today, after an expansion largely under President Obama, there are about 18,000 agents stationed along the border with Mexico, Department of Homeland Security figures show. That does not include more than 23,000 Customs and Border Protection officers on duty, the majority posted at ports of entry along the southwest border.
The migrants in the caravan are from Central America, mainly Honduras, with others from El Salvador and Guatemala joining along the way. They say they have been driven to flee by conditions at home, including poverty and hunger but also murderous gang violence and the collapse of public security. Most are asylum-seekers.
Unlike Bracamontes, the people in the caravan are not illegal border crossers. While their identities and possible criminal backgrounds are largely unknown to U.S. authorities as they are travel through Mexico, the migrants have said they do not seek to cross illegally. If they eventually reach the U.S. border, they want to present themselves legally to border officers to ask for asylum. Rather than trying to elude detection, like Bracamontes, they are asking to be vetted. One reason many joined the caravan was to avoid, and even gain protection from, criminal smugglers and narcotics traffickers, who charge heavy fees for moving people across Mexico to the U.S. border and sometimes try to force migrants to carry drugs as part of the price of crossing.