Facebook removes Trump ads linking refugees to COVID-19

Trump's false ad alleged Biden would up the number of refugees arriving from Syria, Somalia and Yemen by 700 percent.

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Social media giant Facebook has removed an ad from the Trump campaign that falsely claimed refugees would increase risk related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The advertisement featured a clip of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden talking about the border while alleging that Biden would increase the number of refugees arriving from Syria, Somalia and Yemen by 700 percent.

The video was overlaid with text about “health risks” from an “increase in refugees.”

Facebook has removed an ad from President Trump’s presidential campaign that falsely claimed refugees would increase risk related to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

“We rejected these ads because we don’t allow claims that people’s physical safety, health or survival is threatened by people on the basis of their national origin or immigration status,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement to NBC News.

At least 38 different versions of the advertisement ran on Facebook in various markets beginning on Tuesday, and it was taken down the following day. According to the site’s online ad library, versions targeted at voters in Florida and North Carolina racked up tens of thousands of impressions.

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A longer version of the ad with a similar premise is still up on Facebook.

The ad’s content is based on Biden’s goal to increase annual refugee admissions to 125,000 people. He also aims to address the root cause of why so many people are migrating from Central America.

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The two candidates vary widely on the topic of immigration. President Donald Trump has taken a hardline against asylum seekers, migrants from Central America and Mexico, and he has sought to end the DACA program. Biden, the former vice president, seeks to work with Congress to establish a pathway to citizenship. He’s promised that in his first 100 days, he would prioritize family reunifications, reinstate DACA and rescind the Trump administration’s travel ban on many Muslim-majority countries.

Trump campaign spokesperson Courtney Parella said in a statement that “Americans deserve to know that if Joe Biden were president, he would ‘immediately surge the border’ and increase refugees, exposing Americans to further risk of exposure to COVID-19. When it comes to leading our nation through this crisis and delivering the Great American Comeback, Americans can rely on President Trump.”

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