Facebook Fundraiser Raises Over $8 Million for Asylum Seekers

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A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.
Photo: Getty

A new fundraising campaign on Facebook has raised over $8 million to help immigrant families who are being placed in America’s concentration camps along the US-Mexico border. The fundraising goal started at just $1,500, but people are donating roughly $4,000 per minute since the campaign was first created on Saturday. Facebook says it’s the single largest fundraiser on the platform to date.

The campaign funds will be sent to The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a nonprofit group that provides free and low cost legal services to immigrants. Over 204,000 people have donated so far.

The Facebook campaign was started by Charlotte and Dave Willner who live in Silicon Valley with their two-year-old daughter. The Willners told the San Jose Mercury News that they were moved to action by the now infamous photo of a Honduran girl crying as her mother was being detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

Starting the fundraising campaign was “the closest thing we could do to hugging that kid,” Dave Willner told the Mercury News.

The image was captured by Getty photographer John Moore who only had a brief moment to ask them where they were from before the mother and girl were hauled away by Border Patrol. The photo has shown up on countless posters as protesters in the United States take to the streets to oppose the Trump regime’s inhumane policies.

“We do not have the words to thank Charlotte and Dave Willner,” RAICES said in a statement posted to Facebook. “Thanks is inadequate for the work these funds will make possible. We know it will change lives. We know it will save lives by keeping people from being deported to unsafe countries.”

“We’ve been occasionally crying around the office all day when we check the fundraising totals,” the Facebook post continued. “This is such a profound rejection of the cruel policies of this administration. Take heart. There are terrible things happening in the world. And there are many people who are deciding not to look away but to do something. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Facebook Fundraisers is a relatively new tool that allows people to raise money on the social media platform. The feature was first added in late 2015, but in April, the company introduced new features that has given it more visibility to compete with other fundraising platforms like GoFundMe. Americans regularly fund personal causes like money for medical procedures on these platforms, something seen as completely bizarre to the rest of the developed world.

A protester holds a sign during a demonstration outside of the San Francisco office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 19, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo: Getty

As Americans debate the Trump regime’s policies on immigration and its policy of putting children in cages, people keep wondering how they can help. And sadly there hasn’t been much that they can do since this is a problem that has been created by the U.S. government. But donating money to legal services has emerged as one concrete way to fight back.

Journalists have not been allowed to visit most of the facilities where people are being held, and even when reporters were allowed to visit a camp this weekend they weren’t allowed to take photos or video. U.S. Customs and Border Protection released its own propaganda videos of the facility the next day.

Some of Trump’s supporters are distancing themselves from his policy on immigrant families, but others are doubling down. Fox News continues to be the platform of indignation where hosts like Laura Ingraham has referred to America’s concentration camps as “summer camps.” Ingraham is still allowed on the air and has not been punished in any way, despite some calls for an advertiser boycott.

During an appearance on Fox News, an expert described how a 10-year-old girl with Down Syndrome had recently been torn away from her mother and put in a cage. Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, replied “womp womp,” signaling that he didn’t think it was a big deal. The girl’s father is reportedly a legal permanent resident, according to the Washington Post.

“The Mexican government in no way promotes illegal migration,” Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told reporters at news conference yesterday. “However, according to our constitutional principles and our convictions, we cannot be indifferent before an act that clearly represents a violation of human rights and that puts into a vulnerable position minors, children, including those with disabilities.”

U.S. Border Patrol agents take Central American asylum seekers into custody on June 12, 2018 near McAllen, Texas.
Photo: Getty

Medical professionals have called the Trump regime’s policies “child abuse” as more and more stories surface about children being ripped from their parents’ arms. The Associated Press reported yesterday on a woman from El Salvador who hasn’t seen her 8-year-old son in over a month. Many other people don’t even know where their children are, and experts warn that permanent separation will be the inevitable consequence of the Trump’s regime’s policies.

“We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does, for doing the job that the American people expect us to do,” Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said during a speech at the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans on Monday. “Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get-out-of-jail-free cards.”

Many Americans have been feeling helpless in the face of the Trump regime’s cruelty. But donating to RAICES is one way to help. The only other methods available are direct action and voting the bums out.

“I have no better way to describe it than just absolutely stunned and incredibly grateful because the funds that have been raised will enable us to do so much work,” Jenny Hixon, director of education and outreach for RAICES, told the Mercury News.

[Facebook and Mercury News]





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