Fiona Apple has pledged to donate earnings from her hit song “Criminal” to a fund providing services to immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. Apple announced the pledge in letter published today by the (well-connected) fan blog Fiona Apple Rocks. The singer-songwriter will donate all earnings in 2019 and 2020 from the song’s placement in television and film to While They Wait, a fund managed by the immigration law firms Brooklyn Defender Services and RAICES Texas.
“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,” Apple wrote. “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.”
She continued: “What they need is representation and guidance because these people are being prosecuted as criminals just for asking for asylum. When they are separated from their children they need help navigating the system. They need to be bailed out of prison. They need money to pay for the ankle bracelets they are forced to rent and wear while awaiting arraignment, for crying out loud.”
Immigrants seeking asylum and other forms of legal status currently do not have the right to a defense attorney. WhileTheyWait is also campaigning to guarantee that right; you can sign a petition in favor here. The fund previously partnered with Miguel, Calvin Harris, and Benny Blanco on the video for “I Found You,” which tells the story of a mother and her son who were separated at the border while seeking asylum.
Apple also encouraged other artists to donate placement royalties from one of their own songs to While They Wait. You can read her full letter here.