A new Indiegogo campaign is raising funds to house Muslim refugees in Trump Tower New York, a symbolic move to reject the president’s travel ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“President Trump wants to keep Muslim refugees and immigrants out of America. Let’s show him, and the country, just how wrongheaded this idea is,” the campaign posits. “The best way to do this is by having him harbor refugees in his very own golden home—Trump Tower.”
Launched by marketing specialist Jonah Bliss, the campaign aims to raise $60,000 for one year’s rent in the tower, which would allow one family to take advantage of the luxurious amenities boasted by the commander in chief himself.
Bliss told the Daily Dot that he developed the concept behind the campaign shortly after Trump announced the executive order in question. After figuring out the details, such as how much a year’s rent would cost ($60,000), and how to rent a unit without the funds going to Trump himself (units are individually owned), Bliss and a small team of friends worked with refugee advocacy and assistance groups like EmergencyBNB to find families who would be interested in the project.
“It was an act so outlandish, so blatantly wrong, that I felt the only way to strike back was with something equally provocative,” Bliss said.
So far the campaign is off to a slow start with $677 raised, but according to Bliss, the team will change its plan depending on the funds it raises. If it falls short of its goal (it receives all the funds whether the goal is reached because it’s a “flex” campaign), it’ll either secure shorter-term rentals for the refugee families, or it’ll split the revenue between already-existing housing organizations to give them a home.
Bliss also said that, understandably, his campaign has garnered some controversy from critics taking issue with refugees being used to send a statement to the president. Others wonder whether the participating refugees would be put in danger. On the campaign page, he states that Trump Tower “might just be the securest place in New York,” with its constant NYPD and Secret Service presence, though he does warn that participants must be able to handle “this heavy-handed approach, as well as the presence of nearby protestors and gawkers.”
Despite these conditions and the possible scrutiny, Bliss said that based on his conversations with refugees and a refugee housing organization, there are already a few families interested in participating in the housing campaign, mostly from couples without children.
“You can’t purely think about it on a dollar value for how much housing we’re going to provide. So perhaps with a campaign like this, where we’re trying to accomplish multiple aims, a bit of controversy is to be expected,” he said. “I believe that so much of the fear that Americans have of Muslims and refugees is due to lack of exposure; this project can show that a refugee makes as good a neighbor as any other.”
Correction 7:25am, Feb. 20: An earlier version of this article hilariously misstated the name of the Trumps’ security detail. That group is the Secret Service, not Social Security.