California couple raises over $4 million in Facebook fundraiser for immigrant familiesJune 19, 2018
A Facebook fundraiser is set to raise $5 million in under five days in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration and the separation of thousands of children from their families at the border.
Charlotte and Dave Willner started their fundraising campaign after seeing the viral image of a two-year-old girl crying as her mother, an asylum seeker from Honduras, was being searched and detained at the US-Mexico border. The initial goal of $1,500 was meant to help cover bond fees for the one person, but it rapidly grew in scale.
“We are collectively revulsed at what’s happening to immigrant families on our southern border. In times when we often think that the news can’t possibly get worse, it does,” Charlotte Willner wrote on the fundraiser’s description.
The fundraiser went viral, just like the photo that inspired it, with $4,000 being donated every minute as of Tuesday morning. With the outpouring of support, the couple decided to change the fundraiser’s focus and donate the money to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas nonprofit that provides affordable legal services to refugees and immigrants.
In April, the Trump administration directed the US Attorney’s offices to criminally prosecute all adult migrants who attempt to cross the southwest border illegally. Any children accompanying them are then forcibly separated from their parent. This new policy sends these adult migrants to federal jail, instead of immigration detention, where children cannot be held. Over 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their families since the policy was put in place.