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Immigrant legal advocacy organization RAICES has more than tripled staff in last year: report

Immigrant legal advocacy organization RAICES has more than tripled staff in last year: report
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Advocacy group Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) reportedly expanded its staff from 68 employees to more than 200 in under a year amid the ongoing immigration crackdown from the Trump administration.

RAICES is now the biggest pro bono legal services provider in Texas, according to CNN, with most of the expansion occurring after a couple started a fundraising drive for the group last year in response to a viral photo of a Honduran 2-year-old crying as her mother was searched by authorities.

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The fundraiser became the biggest campaign in Facebook history and RAICES wound up netting more than $25 million, but the organization kept its eyes on the work at hand, CEO Jonathan Ryan told CNN.

"Most of our energy was focused on doing the work in real time, which continued almost unperturbed by that reality, by that phenomenon," Ryan said.

Since the fundraiser, the group has reportedly expanded to Arizona, Los Angeles and New York and created new departments for social services and advocacy with the former helping with non-legal needs such as clothes and shoes.

The group has also put a large portion of its budget toward immigration bonds, paying $1.9 million to get nearly 250 people out of detention this year, according to CNN.

Chief advocacy officer Erika Andiola, whose position was created after the fundraiser, says the growth has allowed RAICES to play a part in national dialogue relating to immigration as well.

"I think we've been able to have a much bigger influence around the conversations about immigrants," Andiola told CNN.

"This will always be an asymmetric battle. We are always going to have to be smarter than the opposition. We are always going to be underfunded," Ryan said.