In times of humanitarian crises, people want to know how they can help out right away. When news of family separations and child detentions at the US-Mexico border took off last month, many people stepped up by giving funds to groups that work directly with asylum-seekers and immigrant families who are dealing with the nightmarish “zero tolerance” policy. One of these organizations, RAICES, recently raised $20 million, and is using the funds to bail moms out of detention.
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a nonprofit organization that provides low-cost or free legal services to immigrants and refugees in central and southern Texas. The organization recently held a wildly successful Facebook fundraiser that raised a stunning amount of cash.
RAICES has raised more than $20 million dollars to support people who have been locked away in ICE detention. According to a tweet the organization posted on Tuesday, more than a million people have given to the organization, and their money is being put to very good use.
With millions of dollars on hand, RAICES wrote on its website Tuesday, “We call for all separated families to be reunited, and we demand that the administration accept our $20 million bond check to enable the speedy release of the mothers of the approximate 2,500 children who have been separated, so these families can be reunified.” RAICES also said in a statement provided to CNN that they plan to bail out around 2,500 moms in ICE detention “in one go.”
RAICES is in Washington, D.C., this week demanding the release of mothers from ICE detention. According to CNN, the group will march to Capitol Hill today to offer the check to the government in exchange for the release of thousands of moms.
Of course, this isn’t really how paying bond works. In order for the mothers to be released, bonds will need to be paid locally and individually, but RAICES seems to be looking to raise awareness for its fundraising and to call out the administration for missing critical, court-mandated deadlines to reunite immigrant families. It’s not immediately clear precisely what the organization will use the newly raised funds for.
There’s certainly still an urgent need to get immigrants out of ICE detention and to reunite families who have been separated. Tuesday was the deadline US District Judge Dana Sabraw set for the Trump administration to reunite detained children under the age of five who were separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border. According to CNN, less than half of the families with children under 5 were reunited with their families by yesterday’s deadline. The administration did not have plans or procedures in place to reunite families when it implemented the “zero tolerance” policy, and the process of reunification has been moving very slowly when it’s been moving at all.
The administration is attempting to use DNA testing in order to find parents and children who are detained separately, but the testing process isn’t fast enough to meet the deadlines set forth, according to NPR. Some of the parents who were separated from their children have already been deported, NBC News reports. Judge Sabraw said on Tuesday that the government will be allowed additional time to reunite kids whose parents have been released from detention already, have been deported, or whose parents are in prison for non-immigration related charges.
July 27 is the next reunification deadline. Sabrow has ordered the government to reunite families with children five and older. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there are approximately 2,900 kids in this age range who are still separated from their parents.
With so many families still in detention, there’s a continued need for funds to help organizations working on their behalf. The $20 million raised by RAICES will help a lot of families get the legal services they need to keep their families together and safe.
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(photo via John Moore/Getty Images)