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ACLU lands $24 million in donations after fighting Trump immigration ban

'I’ve never seen anything like this.'


David Gilmour


Posted on Jan 30, 2017   Updated on May 25, 2021, 2:43 am CDT

The American Civil Liberties Union said it received $24,164,691 in donations over the past weekend—over six times more than the average amount it receives in online donations over an entire year.

As thousands of protesters demonstrated in airports across the country on Saturday and Sunday in opposition to President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, ACLU’s lawyers were filing suit in four federal district courts and challenging the constitutionality of the controversial executive order.

Federal courts in four states have issued injunctions against Trump’s immigration ban due to petitions filed by the ACLU and other organizations. The ACLU’s successful challenge in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday night was hailed as an important victory by those who oppose the travel ban.

As news of the court stay carried on social media, thousands began to pledge their support for the organization’s work. Celebrities were even offering to match public donations—the first of whom seems to have been Australian musician and singer Sia.

Others followed, including comedian Rosie O’Donnell—a longtime enemy of Trump’s—and film director Judd Apatow:

As momentum grew, the Twitter hashtag #ACLUmatch was used to help donors connect with those willing to double down on contributions. By Sunday evening, a final tally showed that 356,306 donors had given money, many of whom are giving for the first time.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Anthony Romero, ACLU executive director, told Yahoo News. “People are fired up and want to be engaged. What we’ve seen is an unprecedented public reaction to the challenges of the Trump administration.”

Support and membership application for the organization has increased substantially since the announcement of Trump’s election victory in November, but ACLU staff members were reportedly blown away by the outpouring of generosity.

The momentum from the weekend past hasn’t stopped there; in fact, it’s maintained. Dan Harmon, the writer and producer of comedy series Community, pledged on Sunday to match all subscriptions to his Harmontown podcast before April 15 with donations to the ACLU.

Lyft has offered to donate $1 million to the civil liberties organization when, by contrast, its competitor Uber caused consumer backlash by appearing to break a New York taxi driver strike held in support of protesters against the ban.

The ACLU is already planning to expand its staffing in preparation for more legal challenges. The boost in support will go a long way in allowing the organization to uphold its Election Day promise to stand against Trump’s “unconstitutional campaign promises.” 

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*First Published: Jan 30, 2017, 11:36 am CST