TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran released a controversial new ad opposing sanctuary cities this week, which opponents have called "vile" and "deceitful."
The 30-second ad opens with a dark-skinned man stalking a white woman in a suburban neighborhood. In the video, the hooded and unshaven man pulls out a gun and shoots the woman in an implied robbery.
“This could have happened to any family, anywhere,” Corcoran says in the ad. “Incredibly, some Tallahassee politicians want to make Florida a sanctuary state.”
Corcoran's political action committee, Watchdog PAC, paid for the ad, which is set to run on Fox News channels in central Florida.
Sanctuary cities, which include Miami and Fort Lauderdale, limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.
In the ad, Corcoran mentions the case of Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman who was killed by a Mexican man who had been deported from the U.S. multiple times. Donald Trump featured Steinle's case in his successful campaign for president.
Trump has argued that illegal immigration makes Americans more vulnerable to violent crime and that San Francisco's lax enforcement of immigration laws contributed to Steinle's death.
A number of studies have found that immigrants as a whole — both legal and undocumented — commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.
Monica Russo, president of Service Employees International Union Florida, called the ad a "reckless attempt to instill panic."
"How dare Richard Corcoran degrade our communities by suggesting supporting immigrants in Florida would lead to death." Russo said. "This video depicting anyone can be killed by an undocumented immigrant is not only deceitful, it is extremely dangerous,"
Political observers see the ad as evidence that Corcoran, a Republican, will soon enter the already-crowded governor's race.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat who is running for governor, said Corcoran should be ashamed of himself.
"This race-baiting ad is everything that's wrong with politics today. In the age of Trump, Corcoran is vilifying immigrants," Gillum said. "It's a vile ad that seeks to divide us against one another."
Corcoran quickly responded to Gillum on Twitter.
"If it weren't for the criminal safe havens that Andrew Gillum wants to bring to Florida, Kate Steinle would still be alive today," Corcoran said. "And if Gillum disagrees, I’ll happily debate him anywhere, anytime."