As heartbreaking reports and photographs from the child immigration centers revealed the ugly realities of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, a couple in California decided to undertake a mission to help reunite undocumented families that have been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
After the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for Getty Images, John Moore, posted an image of a 2-year-old Honduran girl crying, it became the face of the America’s ongoing crisis and served as a poignant indicator of the distress and desperation felt by families who are torn apart.
The viral image struck a chord of many, including Facebook’s earliest employees, Charlotte and Dave Willner, who started a fundraising campaign named "Reunite an immigrant parent with their child" with the goal of raising $1,500.
Little did they know, the campaign would become the largest fundraiser Facebook has ever seen.
The couple set out the campaign to raise money for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas-based non-profit that offers free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees.
The page said all money raised was going to “directly fund the bond to get parents out of detention and reunited with their children while they await court proceedings” and to “ensure legal representation for every child in Texas’ immigration courts.”
In less than four days, a Silicon Valley couple drummed up $7.5 million from tens of thousands of people to aid families separated at the border. The campaign has now raised more than $20 million.
“It was the closest thing we could do to hugging that kid,” toldDave Willner told The San Jose Mercury News. The Willners reportedly have a daughter of the same age as the young asylum-seeker in the photo.
The initial amount the couple aimed to raise was the minimum amount needed to cover the fee for one parent to collect their child from federal custody while waiting for a verdict on their immigration hearing.
"We can’t all be on the frontlines to help these families, but by supporting Raices, we’re able to do something that just takes less than a minute, and collectively have an impact," said the Willners.
The nonprofit organization also issued a statement, expressing gratitude and appreciation for all those who contributed.
"We've been occasionally crying around the office all day when we check the fundraising totals. This is such a profound rejection of the cruel policies of this administration," stated RAICES. "And there are many people who are deciding not to look away but to do something. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
To combat escalating border crisis, social media giant’s C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg, who has been critical of President Donald Trump’s border plans, donated an undisclosed amount to the fundraiser.
However, there are other organizations who are receiving floods of donations to help the victims of the Trump administration’s one of the most inhumane policies.
At Trump’s 72nd birthday, celebrity couple Chrissy Teigen and John Legend donated $72,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union to help them in defending "the rights and humanity of these vulnerable families."
Likewise, a Washington-based non-profit that provides free of cost legal services to unaccompanied children, noticed an increase in the stream of funds ever since the migrants’ crisis unfolded in the country.
"People really do want to do something," said organization’s senior director of communications Megan McKenna. "We've heard from photographers, journalists, musicians, writers, just to name a few, who really want to help in some way and to try to put an end to family separation."
"It's really heartening considering what's going on and the daily suffering that's going on, how people are really incredibly concerned, and want us to be the compassionate country that's been our history," she added.
No matter how relentlessly the officials of the current administration defend their draconian measures, the public in majority have declared their disaccord with the policy that has ripped families apart and locked terrified kids in cage-like detainment centers.
Banner Image Credits: REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon