Fundraiser to reunite immigrant families shatters Facebook record

Jeremy B White
Immigrant children now housed in a tent encampment under the new 'zero tolerance' policy by the Trump administration are shown walking in single file at the facility near the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas: REUTERS/Mike Blake

An effort to reunite immigrant families broken up at the US border has shattered Facebook’s previous fundraising records, raking in over $10m.

Thousands of children have been separated from their families as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings, stirring a tsunami of outrage and consuming Washington.

As legislators from both parties have pushed the administration to rescind its policy, people dismayed by the development launched a Facebook page to raise money for a Texas-based advocacy organisation called RAICES that offers legal service to immigrants.

“We are starting our goal at $1,500 and will see how far we get”, founder Charlotte Willner wrote over the weekend.

Within a few days, the effort had gotten further than any in Facebook history.

As of Wednesday morning, the group had pulled in more than $10.3m (£7.8m). More than 250,000 people had donated money and another 230,000 shared the fund-raiser with their friends.

A RAICES representative said on Twitter that the organisation’s website had crashed from the traffic after receiving “more donations than we've ever had”. Some of the money has been used to allow detained immigrant parents to call their children; the organisation can also use the funds to pay bonds and release families from detention.

​An outpouring of support, registered in encouraging posts to the fundraising page, suggested a global reach reflecting how the issue has drawn international attention: donors said they were chipping in from places as remote from the US-Mexican border as France and Australia.