Things That Matter

RAICES Collects Millions To Help Keep Families Together. Here’s Where The Money Is Going

There are several organizations that are fighting against the Trump administration’s immigration policies and travel bans. Even though President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to keep families together, the families, however, will remain detained, and still need legal representation, housing opportunities, meals, and much more. The 2,300 children already separated from their parents will remain separated and need legal representation to be reunited.

Some of those nonprofits that are helping people as they make their way to the border and being held in immigration detention include the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), Momastery, Annunciation House, Al Ortro Lado, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Texas Civil Rights Project. But there’s one organization that has surpassed donations of all of these, and exceeded their own goals much of everyone’s surprise.

In less than two weeks, a viral fundraiser on Facebook has raised more than $20 million for RAICES.

RAICES, which means “roots” in Spanish and stands for Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services,is the largest immigration legal service group in Texas. The fundraiser is the largest fundraiser in Facebook’s history.

“We’ve had moments of ecstasy and there have been a lot of tears in response to this outpouring of support,” Jonathan Ryan, executive director of RAICES, told The New York Times. “But those moments of joy are curtailed by a realization of great responsibility.”

The organization has been around for the past 30 years. Here’s some of the legal services they provide:

  • Asylum
  • Relative Petitions
  • Adjustment of Status
  • Employment Authorization
  • Cancellation of Removal
  • Naturalization
  • Citizenship
  • U Visas (for victims of crimes [and their immediate family members] who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity).
  • T Visas (for certain victims of human trafficking and immediate family members to remain and work temporarily in the United States, typically if they agree to assist law enforcement in testifying against the perpetrators).
  • Temporary Protected Status
  • The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
  • The Violence Against Women Act

In a Facebook Live event, staff from RAICES said that the organization has closed thousands of immigration cases in their 30 years of service.

The fundraiser began on June 16 when Charlotte and Dave Willner of San Francisco saw the picture of the crying toddler surrounded by Border Patrol agents.

So they started a Facebook fundraiser for RAICES and had an original goal of $1,500.

“When we look at the faces of these children, we can’t help but see our own children’s faces,” Charlotte told The Mercury News.

The fundraiser went viral and began to have matching donations. There’s so many donations happening at one time that their website has reached capacity. Dave Willner  said on Facebook that donations are coming in at about $4,000 every minute.

In a statement to CNN, RAICES said: “We do not have the words to thank Charlotte and Dave Willner. We’ve been occasionally crying around the office all day when we check the fundraising totals. There are terrible things happening in the world. And there are many people who are deciding not to look away but to do something.”

RAICES held a Facebook Live event in order to discuss what they’re planning on doing with the millions they have collected.

RAICES Fundraising Update!

RAICES Fundraising Updates with Director of Family Detention Manoj Govindaiah, Director of the Children’s Program Mayra Jimenez, and Asst. Director of Outreach Barbara Peña.

Posted by RAICES on Wednesday, June 20, 2018

For starters, their main objective is to make sure all of the children being detained separately from their parents have competent legal representation in court. The organization is made up of several volunteer attorneys that are working to ensure these kids are represented and reunited with their families.

They said a lot of kids they’re helping are located in Dallas and San Antonio area, and have also hired new staff to help manage the cases.

RAICES has two major initiatives at the moment. One is called the Leaf Project and the other is the Families Together Project.

“As hundreds of children are being ripped away from their parents at the Texas-Mexico border, RAICES received word this week that funding to represent unaccompanied children is ending,” RAICES states on their website. “Children with representation are not lost. More than 90 percent of children with representation continue on with their court case. Children with representation are five times more likely to be successful in their case than children who go to court alone. Representation is often the last line of safety for children very vulnerable to exploitation by both a system and a country hostile to their presence.”

Through the Families Together Project, RAICES can reunite families by paying their bond. “The Parents separated from their children at the border (and other immigrants placed in detention) can’t get released from ICE custody to reunite with their families until they pay the full amount of their immigration bond,” RAICES states on their website. “Bonds are set at a MINIMUM of $1500, and are usually in the range of $5-10K, even for asylum seekers without any criminal history.”

RAICES said via Facebook Live that the money raised is going directly to them and they’re working on using it both short term and long term.

They said Facebook has helped facilitate those funds in order for them to use it as efficiently as possible to make sure no child should ever go without a lawyer in court.

For people wanting to help but cannot donate to their fundraiser, RAICES recommends going to immigration court and observing what it’s like for people to go to court without representation. They also suggest people educate themselves on this issue, calling your local senator, go to a protest, attending a vigil because every action matters.


READ: Trump Administration Claims Babies Separated From Families Are Being Held In ‘Tender Age’ Shelters

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Sheriff Calls Immigrants ‘Drunks’ Then Finds Out His Son Was Arrested For Public Intoxication

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Sheriff Calls Immigrants ‘Drunks’ Then Finds Out His Son Was Arrested For Public Intoxication

screenshot / youtube / fox news

A Texas sheriff is eating his words after his bigotted comments came back to bite him in the worst way.

A day after Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn referred to undocumented immigrants as “drunks” who would “run over” children, his own son was reportedly arrested on charges of public intoxication. It has also been revealed that his son Sergei Waybourn has been arrested before. In 2018 he was charged with assault and in recent years he was arrested for trespassing and theft.

Sheriff Waybourn’s comments sparked controversy when he spoke against undocumented immigrants at a press conference in Washington.

Last Thursday, the sheriff spoke at the conference alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence. Speaking in response to a ruling by a federal California judge made last month that imposed restrictions on ICE’s use of “detainers,” Waybourn underlined the consequences of releasing illegal immigrants with DWI and other crimes.

U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr.’s decision barred ICE from using online database searches to find and detain people based. Recently, the ACLU stated that since 2008, 2 million US citizens have been illegally detained because of such searches.

Waybourn pointed to his charge of inmates to give examples of high rates of repeat offenders. “If we have to turn them loose or they get released, they’re coming back to your neighborhood and my neighborhood,” Waybourn said according to New York Post. “These drunks will run over your children, and they will run over my children.”

After his comments, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens called for Waybourn’s resignation.

According to Dallas Morning News, Domingo Garcia said Waybourn ought to “resign and apologize for his bigoted comments immediately.”

In response, Waybourne said his comments had been taken out of contexts and his office released a statement saying that “Sheriff Waybourn was not referring to all legal or illegal immigrants when making his comments about DWI/DWI repeat offenders. He was speaking toward the charges of DWI and DWI repeat offender in the context of illegal immigration.”

In response to the news of his son’s arrest, the sheriff said he is “deeply saddened by Sergei’s choices.”

According to WFAA, he said that “It has been many years since he disassociated from our family. We, along with many family members have made efforts over the years to help him – all to no avail. It is always sad when drugs take control of a person’s life. His choices and actions have lead to this situation.”

Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

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Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

@democracynow / Twitter

Ecuador’s government announced a round of talks with leaders of the Indigenous groups who have been mobilizing against the government in a move to end the violence and chaos that has racked the nation for more than a week.

President Moreno announced he would withdraw the country from a deal reached with the IMF that many said would cause the greatest harms to the country’s most vulnerable populations.

In a major address, President Lenin Moreno announced he had struck a deal with indigenous leaders to cancel a disputed austerity package.

The news comes after nearly two weeks of protests that have paralyzed the economy and left seven dead.

Under the new agreement, President Moreno will withdraw the International Monetary Fund-backed package, known as Decree 883, that included a sharp rise in fuel costs. Indigenous leaders, in turn, will call on their followers to end protests and street blockades.

“Comrades, this deal is a compromise on both sides,” Moreno said. “The indigenous mobilization will end and Decree 883 will be lifted.”

The two sides will work together to develop a package of measures to cut government spending, increase revenue and reduce Ecuador’s growing budget deficits and public debt.

Ecuador’s Indigenous groups celebrated the announcement as a major victory.

“I’m so happy I don’t know what to say. I don’t have words, I’m so emotional. At least God touched the president’s heart,” said protester Rosa Matango in an interview with The Guardian. “I am happy as a mother, happy for our future. We indigenous people fought and lost so many brothers, but we’ll keep going forward.”

Caravans of cars roamed the streets early on Monday honking in celebration, passengers shouting, banging pots and waving Ecuadorian flags.

“The moment of peace, of agreement, has come for Ecuador,” said Arnaud Peral, the United Nations’ resident coordinator in Ecuador and one of the mediators of the nationally televised talks. “This deal is an extraordinary step.”

Wearing the feathered headdress and face paint of the Achuar people of the Amazon rainforest, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, Jaime Vargas, thanked President Moreno and demanded improved long-term conditions for Indigenous Ecuadorians.

“We want peace for our brothers and sisters in this country,” Vargas said. “We don’t want more repression.”

The protests started when the President affirmed his support for an IMF-backed agreement, known as Decree 883.

The move sparked nationwide protests as prices rose overnight by about a 25% for gas and double for diesel. A state of emergency was imposed on Thursday. Truck and taxi drivers forced a partial shutdown of Quito’s airport and roadblocks have paralyzed major roads across the country.

Images from Quito showed protesters hurling gas bombs and stones, ransacking and vandalizing public buildings as well as clashing with the police in running battles late into the night.

Some protests became so violent that the government was actually forced to flee the capital of Quito for the coastal city of Guayaquil.

All of this was in response to Decree 883 which would have ended fuel subsidies that many of the country’s poorest citizens have come to rely on.

Other indigenous demands included higher taxes on the wealthy and the firing of the interior and defence ministers over their handling of the protests.

In a shift from the heated language of the last 10 days of protests, each side at the negotiations praised the other’s willingness to talk as they outlined their positions in the first hour before a short break.

“From our heart, we declare that we, the peoples and nations, have risen up in search of liberty,” Vargas told The Guardian. “We recognize the bravery of the men and women who rose up.”