A Texas nonprofit working to help reunite immigrant families who have been separated at the U.S. border with Mexico will soon get millions in donations to help their work.

A California couple’s Facebook fundraiser has raised more than $5 million in three days for the  Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) after an outpouring of support from Facebook users.

Started by Charlotte and Dave Willner, the  fundraiser initially had a modest target of less than $2,000.

“We are starting our goal at $1500 and will see how far we get,” the couple wrote on the fundraising page Saturday morning, noting that it’s the minimum bond amount for people detained at the border. 

The fundraiser grew quickly from there as donations grew to about $4,000 a minute, according to the couple, who has raised the goal as donations increased. The current fundraising target is set at $6 million.

The Willner’s fundraiser is the single largest fundraiser on Facebook up until now, according to the company. At the time of this writing, it’s raised more than $10 million from close to 250,000 Facebook users.

RAICES says it will use the money to help fund its work to reunite detained families and provide legal assistance for children. 


“This is such a profound rejection of the cruel policies of this administration,” the group wrote in a statement on Facebook. “Take heart. There are terrible things happening in the world. And there are many people who are deciding not to look away but to do something.”

Facebook says it’s seen an influx of other, smaller fundraisers for the Texas nonprofit in recent days too. On Tuesday, the organization’s website was returning server errors, likely due to increased traffic from the many fundraisers. 

Facebook’s top two executives, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, were among the donors to the Willner’s fundraiser, the company confirmed, though it didn’t disclose the amount of their donations.

Elsewhere on Facebook, Zuckerberg started his own fundraiser for the Texas Civil Rights Project on Tuesday, which so far has raised more than $57,000 for the organization. 

“Organizations like Texas Civil Rights Project and RAICES are doing great work helping families at the US border get legal advice and translation services, as well as documenting what is happening on the ground to make sure these stories are shared,” he wrote.

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