In under a week, a Facebook fundraiser has raised more than $4.5 million to help reconnect undocumented immigrants split from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The “reunite an immigrant parent with their child” page has received contributions from more than 113,000 users, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, since launching on Saturday. The donations are being given to Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), an organization that provides legal services to undocumented immigrants.
Zuckerberg praised RAICES and the Texas Civil Rights Project on his personal page, saying the organizations are doing “great work” at the border. “We need to stop this policy right now,” added the exec.
The fundraiser, started by Dave and Charlotte Willner from the Bay Area, initially aimed to raise $1,500. Contributions hit $4.67 million by Tuesday morning. Several private donors have matched up to $250,000 apiece.
“We are collectively revulsed at what’s happening to immigrant families on our southern border,” wrote the Willners on the page. “In times when we often think that the news can’t possibly get worse, it does — we learned last night that 2000 children (many of them infants and toddlers) have been separated from their parents in just six weeks under President Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy.”
The response has been overwhelming for RAICE, which had its website crash at one point from the flood of donations. RAICE uses the funds for bond payments for the parents, allowing them to reunite with their kids as they wait on the courts.
On behalf of the famlies we can serve thanks to your generosity, we say THANK YOU. We will keep fighting. We will keep working. You make it possible. #EndFamilySeparation #FamiliesBelongTogether https://t.co/0wzHYPurfj pic.twitter.com/FbOVqgt7Lv
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) June 18, 2018
“These children don’t know where their parents are. Their parents aren’t allowed to communicate with them while in custody,” added the Willners. “The government hasn’t set up a system to reunite separated parents and children if one or both are ultimately released. In many cases, parents have been deported without their children — sometimes, young children are deported without their parents.”
The fundraiser follows a national outcry over seeing children, separated from their parents, kept in cages at border detention centers, in the last week. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz pushed emergency legislation on Monday night, aiming to keep families together while in detention.