Hoax Image of Immigration Officers Arresting Voters Circulating on Social Media

The image is a composite of two separate photographs

Hoax Image of Immigration Officers Arresting Voters Circulating on Social Media
Image: NCCC
October 31, 2016

An image has been making the rounds on Twitter that appears to show an immigration officer arresting a man in line to vote. The image, as well as the threatening language aimed at Hispanic voters that accompanies the image, is a hoax.

Tammy Patrick is a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and an expert on elections. She has never heard of any effort made by the federal government to arrest Hispanic voters for violating immigration laws. "I have never, ever, ever heard of this happening. Ever," she said. She called the image "stomach churning."

"It sounds like a step up from decades ago when ads were put out saying that if you hadn't paid child support you will be arrested when you go to vote," she commented, referring to an effort made in South Carolina in the early 2000s to convince black voters not to vote.

According to Pili Tobar, spokesperson for the Latino Victory Project, this kind of image scares many legal Hispanic voters.

"When you have images showing someone getting arrested by ICE at polling locations, that could show a lot of mixed-status families that they could be followed by ICE or targeted by ICE, and that they might be putting their family members at risk," she said.

The image appears to have originated with a Twitter user by the name of "Neil Turner." The account is actually a bot, though it has around 29,000 followers. It is well known for being one of the first to reply to nearly every tweet made by Donald Trump. Few people know who the mastermind behind the account is, but one suspect is a college student studying computer science and living in the South.

The false image has been tweeted to ProPublica's Electionland project and to Univision, the Twitter account of the Spanish-language television channel. It has been compiled in Photoshop from a photo of a voting line outside of an Arizona primary voting site in March and a photo from Wikipedia Commons of an immigration officer making an arrest.