Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not been shy about getting political, and now, he’s wading into the national debate over the treatment of migrant children after raising $59,728 for non-profits providing assistance to families on the US border in 24 hours. The move follows a viral campaign on Facebook that has raised over $12 million for the cause, showing the power for good that the social network has, alongside the normal headlines about the company that we’re used to.
In a fundraising Facebook post on Tuesday that has now raised $61,490, Zuckerberg asked followers to donate to two organizations assisting detained families, writing “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. I’ve donated to them and I encourage you to as well. We need to stop this policy right now.”
The Non-Profits Provide Services For Migrant Families
Both organizations Zuckerberg named provide legal services relevant to the child migrant crisis happening in Texas.
The Texas Civil Rights Project, a non-profit that does legal work for immigrants, has been documenting family separations of undocumented immigrants in the state in the wake of President Trump’s new zero-tolerance policy towards detaining undocumented immigrants caught crossing the border. Without documentation, only the government knows whether or not a family is split up. They are also pursuing legal actions to change family separation policy.
RAICES, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, provides legal defense for immigrant and refugee families in the state.
It Comes on the Heels Of a Viral Fundraiser
Zuckerberg’s fundraiser follows a viral Facebook campaign created by Silicon Valley couple Charlotte and Dave Willner that has raised $12,752,174 for RAICES in four days. The couple says their $15 million goal reflects what it will cost to provide services and representation to every separated family. A Facebook spokesperson told The New York Times that the fundraiser was the largest in the platform’s history.
The amount raised suggests the burgeoning potential of using social media to directly raise funds. While the amount still pales in comparison to amounts raised by high-profile telethons following natural disasters (NBC’s “Concert for Hurricane Relief” raised $40 million after Hurricane Katrina, while the “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief” telethon raised $55 million after 2017’s devastating hurricane season), the fact that a normal couple was able to make a fundraising campaign go viral suggests a powerful force for doing good.
Zuckerberg’s Political History
Zuckerberg himself has somewhat recently shown an interest in wading into politics in ways that some see as signaling the potential for running for office.
In August 2017, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, hired a Democratic pollster who’s worked with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to conduct research for their philanthropic group. That same year, Zuckerberg conducted a nationwide campaign taking and posting photos from every state, often times with captions about public policy.
Speculation about a potential run has died down after Zuckerberg faced corporate disaster when he was called to testify in-front of Congress in the midst of Facebook’s data privacy scandal in early 2018.