With items like “cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities,” “suspend the Syrian Refugee Program” and “triple the number of ICE agents” written on Steve Bannon’s white board checklist, the current administration once again demonstrated how outwardly hostile it is toward the undocumented community. And as President Donald Trump continues to disparage and demonize immigrants, US military veterans are standing up to hate in a new campaign. According to the Huffington Post, these men and women have teamed up with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for the #VetsFightHate project.
Since the internet is such an easy place to spread hate, vets will send video responses to those who tweet out xenophobic words. For example, one user wrote, “Learn English or go back to the country that speaks your language.” So one vet replied, “Hello June, I’m a veteran of the Marine Corps. [Your tweet] is kind of saddening for me because it goes against everything that this country stands for. This country is all about inclusion.”
The SPLC, which also teamed up with marketing agency Wing to carry out its vision, wants veterans to spread these pro-immigrant messages because people tend to respect them. And with the Trump administration’s plans to ramp up deportations, this campaign seeks to counteract the hate coming from the government.
For some of the vets, the campaign is personal. Venezuela-born Lawrence Villarroel came to the United States as a middle schooler. Growing up in Texas, people told him to go back to Mexico – a place he had never even visited. He joined the Air Force right after high school, and now he’s part of #VetsFightHate because he doesn’t approve of the direction the country’s headed in. “We’ve had a change in the presidency, and I feel like based on [Trump’s] rhetoric and policies, a lot of people are feeling emboldened to spout hate toward immigrants, or any minority for that matter,” he said. “This is saying, ‘I, as a veteran, don’t believe that what you’re saying is right.’”
Check out a few of their messages below: