Americans raise millions to reunite families while Trump does nothing


Trump’s executive order does nothing to reunite families. Thankfully, Americans are stepping up in droves.

Public outrage has been growing for weeks over the Trump administration's decision to tear families apart at the border. For weeks, the Trump administration and Republicans did nothing to stop this atrocity.

Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to make it look like he was doing something — but the order does nothing to reunite families that have already been separated, might not stop future separations from happening, and will probably be challenged in court.

But while Trump and his GOP have done nothing, ordinary Americans have started stepping up in droves to do something.

CNN reports that a California couple, Charlotte and Dave Willner, started a fundraising campaign on Facebook over the weekend called "Reunite an immigrant parent with their child." The campaign benefits the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas nonprofit that offers free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees.

At first, the couple hoped to raise $1,500. That's the minimum amount required to bail one person out of ICE custody after they've been detained at the border, and the first step to getting parents reunited with their children.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, the campaign had raised roughly $12 million and counting. When CNN reported the story Tuesday evening, the total raised was over $6 million, and donations were pouring in at a rate of $4,000 per minute.

"We've been occasionally crying around the office all day when we check the fundraising totals," reads a post on the RAICES Facebook page. "This is such a profound rejection of the cruel policies of this administration. Take heart."

A bail bond for one person detained by ICE frequently costs $5,000-10,000, according to RAICES, even though the minimum is $1,500.

But with this kind of money, it's theoretically possible that the organization could bail out at least one member of every family separated at the border. The Trump administration has separated well over 2,000 children from their families since April.

Since Trump still has no plan to reunite families, this bond money is still urgently needed. And many other advocates working tirelessly to help families need support now more than ever.

The Texas Tribune has compiled a list of well over a dozen organizations that are mobilizing to help separated families. Many of these organizations, like the Asylum Seekers Advocacy Project and the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, offer legal services to protect people from deportation and detention.

Earlier this month, activist Alida Garcia tweeted a list of organizations and advocates working to help families. The include Neta, which is raising money to get supplies and food to asylum seekers who have been left stranded outside overcrowded ports of entry, and LUPE, a community organizing group in the Rio Grande Valley that Garcia called one of the most "powerful and inspirational" organizations she's ever worked with.

And there are still more groups doing important work that need support. Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based group that is raising money to bail out women from the Hutto Detention Center, is an all-women's facility that currently houses many mothers who were ripped from their children.

Millions of Americans are raising their voices and opening their wallets to tell Trump that they won't sit quietly while he destroys families in their name.

And after Trump's publicity stunt of an executive order, this public action is more important than ever. Parents and children are still languishing in prison camps, and the Trump administration's assault on families is still ongoing.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.