Fight Family Separation in WNY

We like to call Buffalo the “City of Good Neighbors.” Now’s the time to prove it.

Injustice has become so commonplace that moral outrage has become the norm, but it’s not entirely clear how you, or I, or any one person can address the crimes of the current administration. Though the images we see break our hearts, it’s easy to feel like these atrocities are distant and out of our hands. But let me be clear: the tragedies you see on the news are happening in your backyard, and YOU are capable of changing that. 

The same suffering we all mourn on TV is only a short drive from our homes. There are human beings locked up as close by as Batavia, but the guards and gates aren’t what’s keeping them there. 

People are in cages because they cannot afford to be released.

Many of the inmates in Batavia have been granted bond, either by ICE or an immigration judge. These people are only in cages because they do not have the money to pay their own ransoms. For anyone who feels helpless in the face of governmental terror, THIS is how you can make a difference.

Most of the people who are locked up in Batavia are here because they’re fleeing certain death, but apparently that isn’t enough. The immigration court in Batavia rejects nine out of ten asylum applications for detainees, effectively sentencing these people to death. That said, people who have been released are eight times more likely to be granted asylum. If we can raise enough money to ensure that a single person is released, there is a very real chance that we will have saved a life. 

Unfortunately, bond is generally thousands of dollars. Many among us can’t hope to afford such a price, even if it would save a life. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do. If we as a community can truly live up to our title, we CAN make a difference. We CAN save lives here, and it’ll only take a small donation from each of us.

This is a defining moment for our community. Will we sit idly by while our neighbors die, or will we do what we can to make a difference? It’s time for us to prove that this IS the City of Good Neighbors. 

UPDATE 6/28/18
I’m excited to say that we’ve raised almost $600 in less than two days. At this rate we CAN make a very clear difference. For the sake of transparency, I’d like to provide you all with some additional information:

- WHO AM I: My name is Sam Benatovich. I’m an attorney living in Buffalo, NY. I’ve been lucky to have some wonderful friends involved in immigration for years now, and I’ve grown close to several local immigration lawyers who work with detainees in Batavia, NY

- THE PARTIES INVOLVED: Local immigration lawyers spend all day, every day fighting for the rights of immigrants facing deportation, many of whom are detained in the Batavia facility. I’ve spoken with several of them at length about the needs of their clients and how motivated people can actually make a difference. We’ve discussed organizations across the country (including RAICES, the Bay Area Immigration Bond Fund, the Immigrant Bail Fund, and the immigration bond fund run by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice), the specific methods these organizations have relied on, and ways to emulate them in WNY. They’ve explained that the most productive thing any of us can do is to raise money so that detainees can pay their bond. Inability to pay bond is often the deciding factor in whether or not an individual gets deported, and for many asylum-seekers “deportation” can mean death. 

- HOW THE FUNDS WILL BE SPENT: This fund is specifically intended to pay the bonds of detainees in Batavia. With the assistance of local immigration lawyers, we will determine which detainees can benefit the most from paying their bond. This is NOT a fund for attorneys, law firms, or non-profit organizations; this fund is for the same people that selfless immigration lawyers are fighting to save.

- HOW WE WILL GET THE MONEY TO THOSE WHO NEED IT: Once we’ve raised enough money to pay at least one bond, local immigration attorneys will recommend detainees who could benefit the most from being released. We will then pay their bond directly to ICE. Immigration bonds generally start at $1,500, but there is no maximum. In Batavia, bonds generally range from $7,000 to $12,000. That said, $20,000 bonds are in no way unheard of. Using money to pay these bonds is particularly effective because that money is returned, with interest, upon the completion of the individual’s immigration case. This will allow us to put that money toward someone else’s bond, effectively allowing us to reuse every dollar to help people indefinitely. 

More information and FAQs to follow. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns. I can be reached via Facebook (White Rose of WNY) or email (

Donations ()

  • Alexandra Bowser 
    • $55 
    • 19 mos
  • Madison Ozzella 
    • $20 
    • 19 mos
  • Direct Impact Fund 
    • $1,000 
    • 19 mos
  • Nigel Bouvart 
    • $50 
    • 19 mos
  • Loren Weiland Demmin 
    • $25 
    • 19 mos
See all


Sam Benatovich 
Buffalo, NY
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