"This shows there appears to be a gap in the law - a presidential candidate like Donald Trump could be blasting out these campaign commercial-like videos to millions of views, but viewers would not have real-time information about who is paying for them", Steven Spaulding of government watchdog group Common Cause told ABC News. And the video claimed "Democrats let him into our country" and "Democrats let him say".
The video is reminiscent of the infamous "Willie Horton" ad about a black man who raped a woman while out of prison on a weekend furlough.
They doubled-down on their criticisms of the video, saying: "The Trump campaign ad is the latest example of the President's willingness to lie and fear-monger in order to tear at racial and societal divides; to embrace demagoguery to bolster his own political power and the cause of the Republican midterm campaign".
Trump has dialed up the rhetoric on immigration, issuing dire warnings about caravans of Central American migrants heading to the US border with Mexico. The ad, condemned as racist, was used in 1988 against Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, who supported the furlough program when he was governor of MA. It features Luis Bracamotes, who was sentenced to death in April after being convicted of killing two California sheriff's deputies in 2014. It includes scenes of a migrant caravan moving toward the USA, warning ominously, "Who else would Democrats let in?" and suggesting that more violence would soon penetrate the border.
Republicans have a slim 51-49 hold on the Senate, where Democrats have a tough hill to climb with 26 Democratic seats on the ballot and only nine Republican seats. Those rules are partly in place to address concerns that politicians could try and distance themselves from harsh attack ads, so as not to muddy themselves in the process.
"This is a sickening ad. Republicans everywhere should denounce it", said Republican Sen.
President Donald Trump says his administration has spent a lot of time, money and effort to make sure that Tuesday's midterm elections are "perfect and safe" in contrast to the Russian meddling that intelligence agencies said occurred during the 2016 presidential election.
He told CNN: "This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst". That ad was part of a blitz by Trump's campaign, and his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, did several interviews to promote it. The campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But the Trump campaign was behind the January 2018 video, released on its YouTube page, that featured Bracamontes' courtroom appearance. Barack Obama focused during his second term on recent arrivals and people with criminal histories, but Mr. Trump quickly directed that anyone in the country illegally could be targeted.