Amid a flood of headlines about the reported mistreatment of children being held in squalid detention facilities at the border, Fiona Apple is stepping up to help refugees at the U.S.-Mexico divide. In an impassioned post on the fan-curated Fiona Apple Rocks Tumblr on Sunday, the singer pledged to donate proceeds from two years of royalty payments from her most popular song to a nonprofit group that helps refugees.
“Something I love about being a songwriter is that I get paid for usage of a song I wrote years ago whenever a TV show or movie asks to use it,” Apple wrote in the post attributed to her; a spokesperson for the singer could not be reached for comment at press time for further comment. “‘Criminal’ is my most requested song. In the past I have used my ‘Criminal’ money to help friends or family. However, after months and months of reading the news about how my country is treating refugees, I’ve become gutted with frustration trying to figure out the best way to help. Of course you can donate money for the bare necessities, toothbrushes, blankets, tents, Pedialyte, etc., but after much searching I found the organization WhileTheyWait.org It seems to me that the best way I can help detainees is to contribute to payment of their legal fees.”
Apple continued that what those refugees need is representation and guidance because they are being “prosecuted as criminals just for asking for asylum,” while they are being separated from their children, even as they need funds to get bailed out of prison and reportedly pay for the ankle bracelets they are forced to rent while awaiting arraignment. In order to help these refugees caught in the Trump administration’s crackdown on refugees, Apple has pledge to donate all the earnings from “Criminal” for 2019 and 2020 to WhileTheyWait, which operates a fund manged by the immigration law firms RAICES Texas and Brooklyn Defender.
But that’s not all. “I want to ask other songwriters to donate just ONE TIME, the money they get for the usage of one of their songs to this organization or one of their choosing,” she challenged after making the pledge for the Grammy-winning single from her 1996 debut, Tidal. “I could write a song about this and maybe I will but for now, I will use ‘CRIMINAL’ to help the WRONGLY criminalized get justice. I encourage anyone who wants to join with me to get involved.” She also encouraged anyone willing to help to watch the short film on the WhileTheyWait site about a mother and son separated at the border while seeking asylum, which is cued to Benny Blanco, Miguel and Calvin Harris’, “I Found You.”