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California couple raises more than $5 million on Facebook to reunite immigrant families separated at the border

CNN logo CNN 6/19/2018 By Amanda Jackson, CNN
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) © John Moore/Getty Images MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive to detain a group of Central American asylum seekers near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The group of women and children had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) © John Moore/Getty Images MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive to detain a group of Central American asylum seekers near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The group of women and children had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

In less than four days, a California couple has raised more than $5 million -- and counting -- through Facebook to help reunite undocumented families that have been separated at the border.

Charlotte and Dave Willner were inspired to start the campaign when they saw the viral image showing a frightened, crying 2-year-old girl looking up to the adults around her after crossing the border. The girl, who was with her mother and others, had rafted across the Rio Grande and the group was stopped in Texas by US Border Patrol agents.

"These aren't kids we don't have to care about. They're like our kids," Charlotte Willner told the San Jose Mercury News. "When we look at the faces of these children, we can't help but see our own children's faces."

The Willners originally started their fund-raising campaign named "Reunite an immigrant parent with their child" on Saturday morning with the goal of $1,500. But soon their efforts went viral.

The couple chose to raise money for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a nonprofit located in Texas that offers free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees. The original goal of $1,500 was the minimum amount to cover bond fees for one person, according to RAICES.

By Tuesday afternoon, the campaign surpassed $5 million, with more than 122,000 people donating. Its new goal is $6 million.

"The run rate over the last 3 hours was nearly $4k every minute," posted Dave Willner on Facebook.

RAICES confirmed to CNN that the organization has been in contact with the couple since Saturday.

"We do not have the words to thank Charlotte and Dave Willner," RAICES posted on Facebook. "We've been occasionally crying around the office all day when we check the fundraising totals. There are terrible things happening in the world. And there are many people who are deciding not to look away but to do something."

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