This morning the Trump campaign released its first television ad of 2016. It's dramatic, it's sweeping, and it reiterates his racist and Islamophobic policies. It also appears to use footage from a frontier between Morocco and Spain while talking about the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
"He'll stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for," announces a booming voice over footage of people running towards what looks like a wall:
Fact-checking site Politifact tells us what we're actually looking at is footage of people trying to cross from Morocco into a Spanish-held territory, Melilla, in May 2014:
PolitiFact was able to trace the footage back to the Italian television network RepubblicaTV. On May 3, 2014, the network posted footage of Moroccans crossing the border into Melilla, one of two enclaves on the Moroccan coast that are held by Spain. Migrants who cross the border there are essentially entering territory held by a European Union nation, even though they are still on the African continent. (It can also be seen posted by a YouTube user here.)
Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks told the site she doesn't know where the footage comes from and doesn't represent the video production company. Shortly afterwards, the campaign released an official statement saying the use of the footage was "intentional."
"No sh— it's not the Mexican border but that's what our country is going to look like. This was 1,000 percent on purpose," said Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, speaking to NBC News.
Politifact stands by their "pants on fire" rating of the ad, maintaining that it's misleading. Aside from being disingenuous about the actual situation at the U.S.-Mexican border, using this footage raises comparisons with the situation in Melilla which the Trump campaign might want to think twice about.
The border fence built by Spanish authorities in Melilla in 1993 cost them $35.7 million (that's 33 million euro). It's around 6.2 miles long and nearly 20 feet high. The 1,954-mile wall that Trump is proposing in the U.S., if we use the same standards and if it is physically possible, would cost something like $10.4 billion.
The narrator goes on to tell us that "Mexico will pay for" it. Okay, let's say they will. The Melilla fence has not, in fact, been a successful solution for Spain: it's been criticized by Spanish legal experts and the European Union, some calling it a "wall of shame," Der Spiegel reports. Both Moroccan and Spanish border police have been accused of brutality against migrants trying to scale the fence, with human rights groups producing video evidence to back up those claims. And ultimately, it still hasn't kept everyone seeking a better life out of Melilla, with the Spanish government continually trying to fortify their fence, at the cost of making conditions harder and less humane.
Is this really what we want our border with Mexico to look like?