Samantha Bee Used Her Late-Night Money To Buy A House For Migrant Families

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 24: Executive Producer & Host Samantha Bee attends 'Full Frontal with Samantha Bee' FYC Event Los Angeles at The WGA Theater on May 24, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TBS/Turner) (Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TBS/Turner)

Samantha Bee wants to make you laugh, think and, maybe, take action. The late-night host recently told us that "Full Frontal" is "primarily a comedy show, but if it's not grounded in something we care about, for me, who cares?"

Her Christmas Special — "Christmas on I.C.E." — was a perfect example of her signature blend of comedy and social activism. Bee featured figure skaters dressed like her in blazers and blonde wigs (and included a cameo with Olympic skater Adam Rippon as a commentator), but the topic of the night was immigration.

Part of the special was an in-the-field documentary segment about how the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency treats migrants.

"I think that comedy can make difficult issues digestible, and it is kind of a spoonful of sugar. You can package a difficult story entertainingly, then people receive it differently," Bee said. "I'm not a journalist. That's not really what I do, but marrying these two worlds is all I really want to do."

Then Samantha Bee and her Full Frontal team went one huge step further.

They bought, renovated, and furnished a six bedroom house in Lumpkin Georgia, then donated it to El Refugio. That's a charitable organization providing housing for lawyers, friends and family who have to travel long ways to visit with migrants held at Stewart, the largest I.C.E. detention center in the U.S.

"The only possible way to do this job is if it can be useful for other people in the long run. Like it's too much of an opportunity to waste."

Bee says that the idea was born from feeling helpless. "There's not much you can do personally to change people's outcomes." When they saw that El Refugio had only one house with two bedrooms to serve the many people visiting detainees from out of town they saw a way to help.

"With the power of a television network and the money that TBS put forward, that was something that we were able to physically do, on the ground, to create a better outcome for people," Samantha Bee told us. "It doesn't really solve any problem except this one tiny thing but it will be so useful and helpful for people."

From El Refugio's website about the donation from TBS's Full Frontal with Samantha Bee:

El Refugio provides visitation to immigrants at Stewart Detention Center in the remote town of Lumpkin, Georgia, as well as free lodging and meals to friends and family members visiting their loved ones. The show's donation of a house will enable El Refugio to provide hospitality to even more families separated by I.C.E.

Of the house donation, Bee said, that taking this action was her way of making meaning out of her own good fortune. "The only possible way to do this job is if it can be useful for other people in the long run. Like it's too much of an opportunity to waste."

Listen to this interview on KPCC's The Frame podcast.


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