Facebook group raises $8 million for detained immigrants

Facebook group raises $8 million for detained immigrants
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A fundraising campaign on Facebook has raised more than $8 million for a Texas legal defense fund aimed at parents and children who have been separated after crossing the border illegally.

 

The “Reunite an immigrant parent with their child”  Facebook campaign is the single largest fundraiser on the social media site to date.

It was launched by Charlotte and Dave Willner, who early employees of Facebook who now work for Pinterest and AirBNB, according to a report in The Mercury News.

The couple, who have a two-year-old daughter, began the campaign after being moved by images they saw in coverage of family separations at the border, which are the result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy.  

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“It was the closest thing we could do to hugging that kid,” Dave Willner said.

“These aren’t kids we don’t have to care about. They’re like our kids," Charlotte Willner told The Mercury News. “When we look at the faces of these children, we can’t help but see our own children’s faces.” 

Roughly 2,000 minors have been separated from their guardians since the policy went into effect this spring. The Trump administration has offered varying reasons for the policy, including the false claim that is it required because of a law passed by Congress.

Previous administrations under GOP and Democratic presidents have chosen not to separate minors from their guardians.

The fundraiser started with an initial goal of $1,500, which the Mercury News said would have been enough to pay bond for one immigrant illegally crossing the border. A friend then offered to match a $25,000 donation, The Mercury News reported. 

More than 211,400 people since have donated $8 million as of Wednesday morning.

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHouse investigators receive initial documents from top tech companies Hillicon Valley: Warren turns up heat in battle with Facebook | Instagram unveils new data privacy feature | Advocacy group seeks funding to write about Big Tech Warren turns up heat over Facebook's ad rules MORE and Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer, are among those who have donated to the campaign. 

The fundraiser's goal is now $11 million.

Facebook says it is the single largest fundraiser to date on the social media site, according to Gizmodo.

The funds will benefit The Refugee and Immigrant Center of Education and Legal Services (RAICES), the largest immigration legal services non-profit in Texas.

The money will go toward representing immigrant children and parents in Texas, helping to pay the criminal bonds of the parents so they can be released from detention centers, RAICES announced.

The group said the bond minimums have been set around $1,500 but can typically range between $5,000 and $10,000. RAICES also plans to hire 50 additional lawyers to help represent immigrant families.

“We’ve been occasionally crying around the office all day when we check the fundraising totals,” RACIES wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.