DAVENPORT, Iowa – The chaos at the border is filling TV screens in Iowa as ads by the super PACs backing former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis try to convince voters their candidate is best prepared to stop the influx of migrants and illegal drugs.
The competing television ads illustrate how the flood of illegal immigrants into border towns such as Eagle Pass and El Paso in Texas has spilled over into communities across the country, including over 1,000 miles away in Iowa.
Make America Great Again Inc. is running an ad that blames “bumbling Biden” for creating a crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border and opening the floodgates to “thugs and drugs.”
“We need President Trump,” the narrator says in the ad, which touts the former president’s work on the border wall and putting troops on the border. “The drug cartels are waging war on America.”
The spot jumps to a clip of Mr. Trump saying, “And it is now time for America to wage war on the cartels.”
“That means the death penalty for human traffickers,” the narrator says. “President Trump is the only one with the guts to get it done.”
A TV spot from the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down committee promotes his vow to impose the death penalty on drug dealers. It also highlights that he is the sole candidate in the field with military experience.
“Open borders means every state is a border state — bringing crime where we live and lethal drugs in our schools,” the narrator says. “The only candidate fighting to secure our border now is the only candidate who served in a war zone — Ron DeSantis.”
The group aired another ad featuring video footage of Mr. DeSantis vowing to “use force” against cartels and saying, “We are going to leave them stone-cold dead.”
A recent Fox News poll of Iowa caucus-goers showed immigration was only second to the economy and jobs as the top issue for the election.
President Biden struggles with criticism from members of both parties for his soft approach to immigration. Polls show voters have warmed to the idea of a more aggressive U.S. posture on the border.
The number of authorized immigrants coming into the country has been staggering.
Homeland Security saw 304,162 unauthorized migrants enter the country in August, setting a new monthly record.
It presented a stark contrast to the Trump administration, which in August 2020 had 65,707 unauthorized crossings.
Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis see an opening.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump is telling crowds he will build upon the success his administration had in making the border more secure than ever on his watch.
“This is an invasion, and I am the one candidate who from Day One who knows exactly how to stop it,” Mr. Trump said at a recent campaign stop in Dubuque. “A vote for President Trump means Joe Biden’s horror show at the southern border ends at noon on inauguration day 2025.”
Mr. DeSantis also is prioritizing the issue and criticized parts of Mr. Trump’s record.
He blamed Mr. Trump for not finishing the border wall and noted the Obama administration deported more illegal immigrants over its first four years than the Trump administration.
Mr. DeSantis also has scored points with the base of the party by sending migrants to the liberal bastion of Martha’s Vineyard as a way to highlight the challenges facing border towns and pressure elected leaders to act.
“They are killing our citizens, they are invading our country,” Mr. DeSantis said of illegal immigrants and drug cartels in a recent ABC News interview. “We have every right to hold them accountable and fight back.”
“We have never had a more chaotic situation,” he said.