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Dear RAICES Supporter,

This is actor and activist Alyssa Milano. On December 11 and 12, I was embedded in Texas, visiting detention centers, meeting with lawyers, and sitting in court as children’s futures are decided.

Though I’ve been involved in immigration for a long time, what I saw shocked me still.

In San Antonio, I spent the day at Karnes Detention Center, where asylum-seeking fathers are kept with their sons. One father said he had been tortured by border patrol when first detained, his head smashed against the wall. Another had been locked up for eight months and was so despondent that he was hoping to be deported back to Central America with his 17-year-old. He said if he were speaking to others fleeing violence back home, he’d say not to try their chances here. “It’s not worth it.”

Then I went to El Paso, sitting in on court proceedings as teenager after teenager was brought before a judge to plead their cases. The kids were from Tornillo, a detention camp in the Texas desert that houses thousands of children in tents.

This system is a sham.

We tear gas asylum-seekers on the border and make them wait in months-long lines before pleading their cases here. Once they’re in the U.S., we shuffle them between freezing “hieleras” (ice boxes), prison-like detention centers, and kangaroo courts. If it weren’t for organizations like RAICES, they’d have no access to counsel.

Refugees should have the right to seek safety in this country with proper legal advice, guaranteed by the government they’re hoping will protect them. Instead, we’ve got an adversarial system that seeks to deport them at every step.

Today I’m pledging to match up to $20,000 for RAICES to continue providing legal support to asylum-seekers. A gift of $10, $20, or $50 will go a long ways toward reaching this matching total.

Providing lawyers is the very least we can do for those seeking asylum in our country. They face an otherwise insurmountable immigration system that’s designed to make them fail. Without the legal aid RAICES provides, many children and other asylum-seekers would be facing court alone and their risk of deportation would be high.

Please join me today.

-Alyssa