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Heartwarming Story of the Week: Samantha Bee Buys a House for Families of Detained Immigrants

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This week, talk show host Samantha Bee of TBS’ Full Frontal hosted an entire holiday special highlighting Donald Trump’s continued assault on immigrants, what’s going on with asylum and families at the border, and the plight of immigrant families across the country. “Christmas on I.C.E.,” as the special was called, was dedicated to raising money for KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), which provides legal assistance to immigrant children and separated families. And, at the end of the special, Bee revealed that the show had bought a house and dedicated it to immigrant families.

As Bee said about why she wanted to do the special, “You can have lots of different opinions about what it would take to fix the immigration problem. That’s fine. But we are meeting it with the most profound level of cruelty. It’s unimaginable. That’s something we can solve.”

Bee began her holiday special by reminding us that at least 50 children have still not been reunited with their families following the Administration’s cruel “zero-tolerance” policy. The Trump Administration has failed at reuniting these families despite more than three months passing since the court-imposed deadline; also, some families at the border are STILL being separated today. Bee went on to summarize how Trump has attacked asylum seekers and refugees in recent days, mentioning how the Trump Administration tried to blame the tragic death of seven-year-old Jackelin Caal on her father.

Bee’s next segment detailed the often long, difficult, and dangerous process of traveling to the United States to seek asylum. Bee’s program showed the real human faces of those seeking safety in the U.S. and the incredible obstacles they have to face to get here.

The special also focused on the immigrants who help propel America’s economy — specifically, immigrants who work at Christmas tree farms that help make the holidays beautiful for everyone. They interviewed Juan, a DACA recipient who works on the farm where the White House bought their holiday trees this year.

One segment featured Olympian figure skater Adam Rippon and specifically dealt with ICE in immigrant communities. Bee informed viewers about a their right to refuse to open the door for ICE unless the agent shows ID and has a signed warrant from a judge. Bee also encouraged her viewers to monitor ICE activity and organize their communities to support their immigrant neighbors and elect pro-immigrant politicians.   

Finally, Bee ended her special by announcing that the show had purchased, fixed up, and donated a five-bedroom house to the Decatur, Georgia charity El Refugio Ministry. El Refugio provides free temporary housing to families visiting their detained loved ones at the extremely remote Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. The Lumpkin facility is the largest in the nation, with some 1,800 beds, but the small town there cannot accommodate visiting families. El Refugio previously had one house with nine bunk beds and one bathroom; Bee’s incredible donation will provide much-needed space for visiting families and attorneys.  

In the Los Angeles Times, Bee remembered a woman at the detention center in Lumpkin who had driven overnight with three children under the age of 3 in order to visit their father. “The detainees don’t get to hold their babies, they don’t get to touch their children, the meeting is held behind glass, the telephones do not work,” Bee said. “It is just literally — sorry, I’m going to cry — dads with their hands pressed up to the glass and babies on the other side going, ‘Why isn’t Daddy picking me up?’ This is what we’re doing by the tens of thousands. We cannot be OK with this.”

Watch a trailer for the special, below: