Michael Williams –a Georgia state senator and, according to his website, the first elected official in the state to endorse Donald Trump – announced this week that he would drive a bus around the state to raise awareness of the “overwhelming problem of illegal immigration”.
“Throughout his bus tour of sanctuary cities, Williams will expose how dangerous illegal aliens ruin local economies, cost American jobs, increase healthcare costs, and lower education standards,” a statement on his Facebook page reads.
A campaign video announcing the tour shows Mr Williams descending from the bus, which appears to be a refurbished school bus emblazoned with a “Michael Williams Deportation Bus Tour” logo.
A message painted on the back of the bus reads: ‘Danger: Murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molesters and other criminals onboard.”
“We’re not just gonna track ‘em and watch ‘em roam around our state,’ Mr Williams says, slapping the bus for emphasis. “We’re gonna put ‘em on this bus and send ‘em home”.
“…only candidate who’ll truly work closely w/President Trump to #MAGA for all its citizenry. Michael is definitely one of us –a fellow patriot who loves his country & wants to give back. We urge all of our fellow Georgia Trump supporters to vote for Michael Williams on May 22.” pic.twitter.com/ToUeniU2pR
— Michael Williams (@williamsforga) May 10, 2018
It is unclear how Mr Williams intends to execute this plan, or whether he actually plans to detain the immigrants himself. Immigration arrests are generally made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, and deportation proceedings are processed through special immigration courts.
In the video, Mr Williams said he would implement a 287(g) deportation plan – a reference to a federal law that allows local police officers to collaborate with the federal government on immigration enforcement.
Mr Williams previously made headlines for a CNN interview in which he claimed Delta airlines gave discounts to “members” of Planned Parenthood – a network of women’s health clinics that provides abortions, among other services. No such discount exists.
The senator did not respond to a request for comment.
Just days before Mr Williams released the video, one of his opponents – Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp – debuted another ad focusing on illegal immigration.
“I got a big truck, just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself,” Mr Kemp says in the 30-second spot.
“Yep, I just said that,” he adds. “If you want a politically incorrect conservative, that’s me.”
Both Mr Kemp and Mr Williams are vocal supporters of Mr Trump, who campaigned on a hard-line anti-immigration platform. The president has famously referred to Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists, and promised to build a wall along the southern border.
Mr Williams said his bus tour will focus on a frequent topic of concern for Mr Trump: sanctuary cities. These cities – like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York – limit their cooperation with federal immigration officials in order to protect the undocumented immigrants living there.
Mr Trump has repeatedly lambasted such cities, most recently tweeting that “soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept”.
Research from the University of California, Riverside has shown there is no significant difference in crime rates between sanctuary and non-sanctuary cities. A 2017 analysis from the Centre for American Progress and the National Immigration Law Centre found sanctuary cities had lower crime rates and stronger economies than non-sanctuary cities.
There are only two sanctuary counties in Georgia, according to the Centre for Immigration Studies.