Over $18M raised on Facebook to reunite families hit by Trump's immigration policy

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley leaders have spoken out against the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy toward migrant families crossing into the US.

Zoey Chong Reporter
Zoey is CNET's Asia News Reporter based in Singapore. She prefers variety to monotony and owns an Android mobile device, a Windows PC and Apple's MacBook Pro all at the same time. Outside of the office, she can be found binging on Korean variety shows, if not chilling out with a book at a café recommended by a friend.
Zoey Chong
2 min read
Border Patrol Agents Detain Migrants Near US-Mexico Border

A 2-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the US-Mexico border on June 12 in McAllen, Texas.

John Moore/Getty Images

It turns out Facebook can help raise a lot of money.

Charlotte and Dave Willner set up a fundraiser on Facebook on Saturday to help reunite families affected by the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" approach toward undocumented immigrants, USA Today reported Monday. Their original goal was to raise $1,500. 

As of Friday over $18 million has been raised from about 488,000 contributors. It's the largest single fundraiser to date using Facebook Fundraisers, and a spokesman for the social network confirmed that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg both made donations.

The couple, both former Facebook employees who now work at other tech companies, felt "revulsed" by the more than 2,000 children separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border. The issue has also caught the attention of tech industry leaders. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, for instance, said Monday that his company "is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border." Airbnb's co-founders also spoke out, saying in a statement on Twitter that the "US government needs to stop this injustice and reunite these families." In January, Amazon's Jeff Bezos donated $33 million to a scholarship fund for immigrants brought into the US illegally as children.

The funds raised in the Facebook campaign will benefit RAICES, a Texas nonprofit that provides free legal services to immigrants and refugees. The company didn't respond to a request for comment but said in a Facebook post that "thanks is inadequate for the work these funds will make possible. We know it will change lives."

Watch this: Tech leaders slam Trump for ending DACA

CNET's Marrian Zhou contributed to this report.

First published on June 18 at 10:11 p.m. PT.
Updates June 19 at 8:54 a.m. PT: Adds Airbnb co-founders statement, Facebook spokesman confirmation and RAICES statement. And 10:17 p.m. PT: Adds more information about the fundraiser. And 1:22 p.m. PT: Fundraising amount is now over $5 million.
Update, June 20 at 7:03 a.m. PT: Fundraising amount is now over $9 million.
Update, June 20 at 10:25 a.m. PT: Fundraising amount is now over $11 million.
Update, June 22 at 10:35 a.m PT: Fundraising amount is now over $18 million.

Correction, June 19 at 10:17 a.m. PT: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Charlotte and Dave Willner.

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