If you’re horrified about immigrant families getting torn apart at the border, donate to RAICES
The news about the Trump Administration’s new “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which separates parents from their children when families are detained for crossing the border, can be extremely difficult to hear — and it feels like every new report is getting worse and worse with each passing day. With the presidential election still years away, and many immigration policies decided at the federal level, it’s easy to feel completely helpless and hopeless: for immigrant families looking for a better life, for the state of our country, and for the state of human rights.
While national protests are being organized and held as quickly as possible, one group of organizers took to Facebook last week to take action immediately, in the way that they feel would have the most impact on the families that are being directly affected by these harmful policies: they are raising money for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) — and they’ve already collected over $1.2 million.
The organizers, who prefer to remain anonymous, started the fundraiser to take immediate steps to help — as well as to find a solution that bypasses the political issues that created the problem.
“Until the election, I think there’s little chance of a political solution to this grave American moral failing,” the fundraisers wrote on the Facebook page. “But there is still something we can do. Today we are raising money for RAICES, the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas. For years, RAICES has been working with some of the most vulnerable members of our society to ensure they receive advocacy and fair legal representation.”
Currently, RAICES, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Texas, has two major goals: to fund the bond necessary 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.
Both of these goals are challenging, especially without funds. The bonds are set at a minimum of $1,500 and are more usually in the range of $5,000 to $10,000, even for detained immigrants without a criminal history. At the same time, 76 percent of children detained at the border didn’t have legal representation last year — that’s an estimated 13,000 kids who desperately need legal help.
For the last 30 years, RAICES has provided legal services to immigrants across Texas, through their six offices located in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. In 2017, their staff of 130 attorneys and staff members closed 51,000 legal cases for free for their clients.
The organizers of the current Facebook campaign aren’t officially associated with RAICES — they just wanted to help in any way they can. And they are already making a huge impact, simply by connecting the people who can help with people who can donate.
“One cool thing is that we have been able to get a bunch of privately matching donors — some have been big gifts, like 25K, but most have been 1K to 5K,” one of the organizers told Scary Mommy. “The matching really encouraged regular donors in the beginning, and then as the regular donors started to snowball, we began getting complete strangers asking if they could be a matching donor.”
But while some donors are giving large gifts to help families seeking asylum, most are just giving what they can.
“The average donation is around $40, so it’s not these giant donations, it’s loads of people saying ‘I’m a teacher between paydays, but this is the most important thing I can spend my money on’,” the organizer said. “That’s pretty special. Perhaps the moral of that story is always ask. Like many Scary Mommy readers, I’m an introvert who would never have dreamed of speaking publicly about politics, much less ask strangers for money — but it’s necessary, so we all have to do it now.”
So far, the Facebook group has raised over a million dollars, with another $226,000 coming in through private donors.
There are two ways to donate: either through the Facebook page or the RAICES donation page. Those without the funds to donate can still help by amplifying the message and sharing the donation pages on social media or through other means.