GoFundMe is making it easy to help Dreamers

By Ben Paynter

August 20, 2018

Philanthropic crowdfunding giant GoFundMe has launched a central hub for donors to support Dreamers. The effort is designed to help pay for the cost of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) renewals, which must happen every two years and cost $495 per person in application fees.



The program grants a stay of deportation to the children of immigrants who came to the United States when they were under 16. But the program, which exists via an executive order issued during the Obama administration, has been under fire from President Trump, who in September 2017 instigated a plan to dismantle it and deport everyone.

Trump’s deportation order was scheduled to take effect in March but has been delayed by a series of lawsuits involving the states of California (and University of California), Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. At the same time, an initial verdict by a U.S. District judge in California mandated that the government continue allowing DACA participants to apply for renewals, although no new applicants are currently accepted. That decision will likely be appealed at the Supreme Court, but it would be at least several more months before the case could be heard.

[Screenshot: GoFundMe]

In the meantime, about 800,000 people are now considered Dreamers, meaning they were under the age of 16 when they originally arrived here, are enrolled in school or have already achieved a high school degree or GED, and have no criminal record. And they have the recurring government fees, plus whatever additional costs that mount if Dreamers have consulted lawyers about their status.

If there’s not a specific Dreamer you want to help, you can now visit the hub and give to a universal fund that will be distributed by the Direct Impact Fund, an independent nonprofit that GoFundMe works with the ensure funding is equitably managed. Currently, the hub has over 200 campaigns, and new ones are being considered in the order they are added. Prior to this launch, the company says that “tens of thousands” of people had donated more than $200,000 to various campaigns, according to a press release.

The hub was designed in partnership with FWD.us, a nonprofit made up of tech and business leaders seeking immigration and criminal justice reforms, which supports the Informed Immigrant initiative to help Dreamers better understand their status and how to maintain it.

GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon has been particularly supportive of the obviously politicized issue. In a blog post announcing the effort, he called immigrants “the lifeblood of this country” adding that America is stronger because of “past generations who arrived on our shores in search of a better life, and we grow stronger with the contributions of the next generation of immigrants.”


That’s part a continuing shift for the company, which once seemed to hew to Silicon Valley’s rhetoric about serving as a neutral platform. (For instance, it allowed alt-right supporters to raise funds for obviously hate-fueled events there because they were cloaked in such a way as to not violate its terms of service.) “As we said, Dreamers are young, patriotic people who are American in every sense but on paper,” adds Solomon in an email to Fast Company. “They deserve to retain the important protections against the threat of deportation, and hopefully this effort helps more Dreamers renew their DACA applications. This is about doing the right thing, and we believe it’s important to stand with the Dreamers.”

Creating centralized hubs isn’t a new tactic for GoFundMe. But the company has been employing that feature in increasingly progressive ways, including efforts to wipe out school lunch debt and reunite families being separated at the border. (“GoFundMe condemns in the strongest possible terms the current policy of separating families at the border,” Solomon said in a statement at the time.”This cruel, senseless, and wholly unnecessary policy is an affront to the moral dignity of all Americans, and must be stopped without delay.”)

In this case, Solomon adds that Dreamers are “supported by a strong coalition of individuals and groups on both sides of the aisle”—although news reports make it clear that Trump feels differently. But GoFundMe continues to find new ways for people to express these obviously shared values. “We not only want to connect people all around the world, we also want to enable them to take action to effect positive change,” Solomon says.



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