Many recalled the infamous "Willie Horton" campaign ad from the 1988 presidential election between George H.W. Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis.
The 53-second ad opens with a slogan, "Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people", and video shows him during a court appearance smiling at the judge before being removed by court officers.
The captions read: "Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!"
And as if the racist messaging wasn't blatant enough, the video cuts to scenes of what appears to be the Central American migrant caravan crowding roadways and storming fences like a scene out of a zombie thriller.
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Trump and the Republicans have spent weeks appealing to the racist, anti-immigrant fears of his base ahead of the election.
The White House and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comments as to who made or paid for the video or if any tax dollars were used to run it from the president's account. And as the fear-mongering reaches its peak, the screen goes black, and the words, "President Donald Trump and Republicans are making America safe again" pop up to reassure us all that we're in good hands.
Bracamontes initially entered the country illegally in 1993 and was deported in 1997 following a drug sentence.
Retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake called it "sickening".
The tweet stirred up controversy, and some replies to the tweet criticized Trump for focusing on Bracamontes and not USA citizens who committed mass shootings. "Democrats let him stay", the text on the screen continues.
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The president said that may change, and in particular he may authorize troops to use force. Trump has nonetheless mounted an enormous show of force in response.
"Who else would Democrats let in?" asks the ad, which Trump tweeted late on Wednesday.
The spot includes expletives uttered by Bracamontes during his trial professing regret at not killing more officials. The ad, which was financed by supporters of Bush's campaign focused on Horton, a convicted murderer, who was released on a weekend furlough program (which had been supported by Dukakis) and committed assault and rape while he was out.
That ad was part of a blitz by Mr Trump's campaign, and his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, did several interviews to promote it.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called the new ad the "dog whistle of all dog whistles".
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