In the discussion about immigrant kids separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border, one name comes up often these days: RAICES.
The Texas nonprofit is the intended recipient of several online fundraisers that’s collecting money to help reunite the families, including one that has already raised more than $20 million.
Here’s what we know about the organization:
What does it do?
RAICES, pronounced ruh-EE-ces, is an acronym for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. It offers free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees.
It has 130 employees: a mix of attorneys, legal assistants and support staff who consult, represent and advocate for clients, according to its website.
The organization also works to educate communities and lend social support.
“Our advocacy and commitment to change are driven by the clients and families we serve every day … in an immigration system that breaks apart families and leaves millions without pathways to legal status,” the group says.
What are some of the services it offers?
RAICES offers consultations for immigrants filling out residency or citizenship applications. It also offers legal services to asylum-seekers eligible for relief, victims of crime or Texas residents at risk of deportation.
For those in the US with DACA status, RAICES can help with renewals. Its offices also serve Temporary Protective Status recipients.
The organization recently launched the Family Reunification Project with the Texas Civil Rights Project to identify families separated at the border.
Since June 1, officials with the group say they’ve received the names of 184 people separated from their children in court in McAllen, Texas.
Last month, it created a “National Families Together Hotline” – 1-800-ESTAMOS. Executive director Jonathan Ryan told CNN the group has been calling the families of detained people, as well as service providers and detention centers, in its work to reunify families. But there are still obstacles to overcome, like getting rejected from paying immigrants’ bonds, he said.
“These are examples of little hurdles that we get that makes helping so many people quickly a really difficult logistic,” he told CNN.
How many people does it serve?
Since its founding in 1986, RAICES has become the largest immigration legal provider in the state, according to its website.
In 2017, RAICES staff say they have closed 51,000 cases that were free for their clients, per the website.
It has offices in several cities in Texas, including Austin, Dallas and Houston.
Who are some of the people raising money for RAICES?
Charlotte and Dave Wilmer saw the viral photo of a 2-year-old girl crying as her mother was searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The fundraiser launched on June 16 with an initial goal of $1,500. In just over a week, they raised more than $20 million, and their new goal is to reach $25 million.
The campaign has gained the support of celebrities including Jimmy Fallon, who donated to RAICES in President Trump’s name.
It’s not the only fundraising effort taking place. A 6-year-old’s lemonade stand in Atlanta raised over $13,000 for separated immigrant families.
What will RAICES spend the money on?
RAICES is using the money for legal services for immigrant children and their parents, and it’s working to reunite families.
The group also wants to start a joint reunification fund to partner with other organizations and reach as many people as possible.
Ryan told The New York Times that RAICES is also planning “to go on a hiring spree.” As of June 19, there were about 50 lawyers on staff.
The group said it will make an announcement Tuesday about what it’s doing with the money.
“We still have all the money and haven’t done anything with it. We hope to have something in place to announce by Tuesday,” communications director Jennifer Falcon told CNN.
Update: This piece has been updated to accurately reflect what Jennifer Falcon told CNN.
CNN’s Nick Valencia contributed to this report.