President Donald Trump has run roughly 2,200 Facebook advertisements using the word "invasion" since May 2018, Media Matters announced on Sunday following two mass shootings over the weekend.
"According to Facebook's ad archive, Trump has run around 2,200 FB ads since May 2018 mentioning the word 'invasion.' Scrolling through, all of them seem to be about immigration," Natalie Martinez, an extremism & social media researcher for Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, tweeted on Sunday, alongside screenshots of the president's advertisements.
"We have an INVASION! So we are BUILDING THE WALL to STOP IT! Dems will sue us. But we want a SAFE COUNTRY!," one of Trump's advertised posts read. "It's CRITICAL that we STOP THE INVASION. Nancy Pelosi and Democrats have not negotiated in good faith to fund a wall at our Southern Border, proving that OBSTRUCTION is far more important to them than YOUR SAFETY..."
Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retweeted Martinez's post on Sunday evening and declared that by repeatedly using the words "infestation" and "invasion" to address a "specific, targeted group of people," Trump is implying that they are "vermin."
"This is the language of white supremacy & it goes all the way to the top," the freshman lawmaker tweeted. "It's not a matter of political stances. This is stoking hatred + endangering the country."
A gunman, unofficially identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, opened fire at a Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas on Saturday, leaving 20 dead and at least 26 others injured.
Authorities told the Washington Post that they were investigating a manifesto, allegedly written by the shooter, that contained strong anti-immigration sentiments and sympathy for the Christchurch shooter, a gunman involved in attacks on New Zealand mosques that left 49 dead earlier this year. Hours later, on Sunday, another shooter killed nine in Dayton, Ohio.
A Twitter account that is suspected to belong to Crusius liked an image of guns arranged to spell out "Trump." The account was suspended by the social media platform on Saturday.
Democrats, including various 2020 candidates, and other politicians have sparred over whether Trump's inflammatory rhetoric about immigrants had effectively encouraged the hate and violence in the El Paso shooting.
Trump "is a racist and he stokes racism in this country," former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke said on Saturday. "And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence."
The president "doesn't just tolerate, he encourages the kind of open racism," the Democratic presidential candidate added on Sunday, during an appearance on ABC News.
Responding to the attacks, Trump on Sunday declared that "hate has no place in our country" and vowed that his administration will "take care of it," without providing any concrete plans to address gun violence. Although the president claimed that his administration has "done much more than most administrations" on the issue, he also noted that "perhaps more has to be done."
#TrumpsTerrorists began trending on Twitter on Sunday afternoon with tens of thousands of Americans weighing in on whether Trump should be blamed for the mass shootings.