Former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee came under fire on Saturday for tweeting a picture of MS-13 gang members with the caption, 'Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee to take back the house'.
Huckabee was called a 'racist piece of trash' over the post, while another commentator tweeted: 'The punchline of this "joke" from the Republican former governor of Arkansas is that Latinos are bad and scary and also Democrats.'
The post, which showed the five tattooed Hispanic men making gang signals, comes as a heated debate over immigration rages in the US, sparked by the Trump administration's controversial 'zero tolerance' policy which saw migrant children split from their parents.
Mike Huckabee's tweet, sent on Saturday, showed five tattooed Hispanic men making gang signals and had the caption 'Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee to take back the house'
Huckabee was called 'racist piece of trash' over the post, with another commentator tweeting: 'The punchline of this 'joke' from the Republican former governor of Arkansas is that Latinos are bad and scary and also Democrats'
Tim O'Brien wrote: 'Mike Huckabee, a Christian minister who believes in the power of love and forgiveness, would never exploit racism and tensions over immigration for political purposes.'
Television anchor Soledad O'Brien tweeted: 'Governor Huckabee, still a bigot.'
Meanwhile, Adam Davidson, a staff writer for the New Yorker, claimed the post drew worrying historical parallels.
'I know we're cautioned to go easy on the Nazi parallels, but this is too clear an example,' he wrote.
'This is no different from a Nazi-era cartoon of criminal Jews. Huckabee should be ostracized and ashamed.'
MS-13 is an international criminal gang formed in Los Angeles made up mainly of people from Central America.
It has become a flash point for Americans concerned about illegal migrants coming into the U.S.
President Trump has repeatedly called the group 'animals' and led an event at the White House on Friday which featured many relatives of their victims.
Others called Huckabee a 'bigot' while New Yorker staff writer Adam Davidson claimed the post had 'Nazi' parallels
Political reporter Jeff Greenfield said the attitude shown in the tweet was a departure from Huckabee's attitude towards immigration when he was running for president in 2008.
'The Mike Huckabee I covered during the 2008 campaign would have roundly condemned this,' he tweeted.
And Democrat supporter Andrew Primmer Andrew tweeted: 'Why does everyone think that showing compassion for immigrants is the same as showing compassion for gangs that may come from said immigrants?
'Not all immigrants are gang members. We as Americans are better than this. Stop the propaganda war. We Democrats DO NOT SUPPORT MS-13.'
Huckabee's tweet came two days after House Minority Leader Pelosi criticized President Trump's immigration policy in a speech to Democratic lawmakers.
Specifically calling him out on the now reversed policy of separating children from their parents, she said: 'You come near our cubs, you got a problem. And we consider these [immigrant] children our children.'
Many people on Twitter accused Huckabee of deliberately conflating the issue of children being separated with the threat of immigrant criminal gangs.
Earlier this year, Huckabee (pictured on January 31, 2016) was forced to resign from the board for the Country Music Association Foundation following complaints about his 'grossly' offensive opinions'
Many people on Twitter accused Huckabee of deliberately conflating the issue of children being separated with the threat of immigrant criminal gangs
DC Resister Bee tweeted: 'Throws out racist scapegoating - equating ALL immigrants, including the mothers & forcibly separated - with crime/gangs It's called Dehumanization.'
And John Beemster wrote: 'Hey, Huck, all kidding aside: using a racist generalization to deflect away from the GOP’s blatant racist tactics along the border does nothing but froth up your racist base.'
Earlier this year, Huckabee was forced to resign from the board for the Country Music Association Foundation following complaints about his 'grossly' offensive opinions.'
In 2010, he said that he believed gay marriage was akin to incest and polygamy.
Huckabee was also one politician to cause controversy when he advocated against gun control after the Florida school shooing where 17 people were killed.
He said: 'When somebody has an intent to do incredible damage, they're going to find a way to do it.'
Later on Saturday Huckabee tweeted his anger after his daughter, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, was kicked out of a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, after the manager refused to serve her.