TAMPA — Donald Trump's latest campaign ad starts with the photo of an African American teenager in a football jersey, grinning for the camera and holding a football.
“Jas Shaw was a 17-year-old football star who was gunned just outside his home,” a narrator says as the words “gunned down” appear in white bold letters against a red background on top of the photo. “His killer? An illegal immigrant gang member who just got out of prison.”
The 30-second ad, which will soon air in South Carolina ahead of the Feb. 20 Republican primary, features Jas Shaw’s father, Jamiel Shaw, who has endorsed Trump for president and appeared on the campaign trail with him. In the ad, Shaw says Trump is the only candidate who will end illegal immigration.
“Trump is the only one saying: ‘You’re going to be dealt with. We’re going to enforce that,’ ” Shaw says in the ad. “We’re going to enforce that. That's a beautiful thing.”
Trump launched his presidential campaign in June by describing many illegal immigrants as violent criminals and rapists, a characterization that was quickly denounced by fellow Republicans and immigration activists as inaccurate and racist.
He doubled down on the statement and searched for examples to back up his assertion, which he lists off at campaign rallies: “Beautiful Kate,” the 31-year-old woman who police say was gunned down on a San Francisco pier in July by a Mexican national in the country illegally and who had already been deported five times. A California woman in her 60s who was raped, beaten and killed in August allegedly by a man illegally in the country who had been arrested six times in 15 months. And Jamiel Shaw Jr., known as Jas to his friends, the 17-year-old football star who was killed near his home in South Los Angeles in 2008.
Jas's father met Trump last summer as the billionaire faced accusations of racism for his comments. At a July 10 news conference with Trump at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., Shaw told reporters that political correctness has led Americans to ignore the rash of murders involving illegal immigrants.
Trump has also met with members of the Remembrance Project, a nonprofit group started in 2009 to “honor and remember Americans who have been killed by illegal aliens.”
“To me, he said it right,” Shaw said, according to local media reports from last summer. “You don’t have to know how to say everything, you just have to have action. … He’s telling the truth.”
The next day, Shaw appeared with Trump at a rally in Phoenix and again defended the candidate. Shaw spoke emotionally about how he was “one of those hands-on dads” who worked hard to raise “a good kid” who got high grades, did the right thing and stayed out of trouble. When Jas was 5, Shaw started training his son to be a football player. In high school, his son was an early star and was in contact with recruiters at Stanford University.
On March 2, 2008, Shaw’s son went to the mall with friends and talked with his dad as he was walking home. A few minutes after they hung up, Shaw heard gunshots, “really loud, really crispy.” He tried calling his son but there was no answer. He ran outside and found his son’s body in the street. Later police would say that two gang members mistook Shaw for a member of a rival gang because he was wearing a Spiderman backpack. In November 2012, Pedro Espinoza was sentenced to death for Shaw's murder.
“After all that, you know, I found out that the guy that killed him was illegally in the country — come on,” Shaw said at the rally in Phoenix in July. “I thought that somebody black did it.”
Shaw also accompanied Trump to a December rally in Las Vegas and is now featured in the ad released on Friday. A discussion about immigration is often accompanied by a discussion of race, and Shaw has become Trump’s assistant in having that discussion — especially ahead of the primary in South Carolina, where more than 27 percent of the population is black. The ad doesn’t mention the races of Jas Shaw or the man who killed him, but it shows their photos side by side.
“We don’t know what’s going on — that’s why we need Donald Trump,” Shaw said at the rally in Las Vegas. “He feels what we feel. I mean, he feels what we feel. He’s just like us, you know? I know that now.”