Dear Casa San José Amigos,
Welcome back to our email newsletter!

Help:

The May 5 Cinco de Mayo festival at Las Palmas will be fantástico!  We need volunteers to help at children’s area for crafts and painting – and then stay for the food and music. Or just come for the food and music!  To volunteer, contact Katie at katherine@casasanjose.

Pressley Ridge which has been caring for children since 1832, is a foster care agency. Because there has recently been an increase in their Spanish-only speaking youth, they are in need of Spanish-speaking homes and families to care for them. If you might be willing to consider this, please contact Gigi D’ Amico at 412-583-2195 or ldamico@pressleyridge.org for more information.

On May 19 – Casa is participating in a Community Cultural Meal to bring residents of Beechview together.  Place: Beechview Senior & Community Center, 1555 Broadway Ave.  15216.  We are organizing child care and we need 3 helpers from 12:15 to 1 pm.  Please email Katie at katherine@casasanjose.org.

Action:

Join with us and many other progressive organizations and people on  Tuesday, May 1 – May Day 2018, as we come together to honor and celebrate immigrants and workers in Pittsburgh!   All workers deserve living wages and the right to organize, comfort and joy, dignity and respect.  Come celebrate and support all these things at Salem’s Market and Grill,  2923 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh from 6 – 9 pm.

PICC is focusing on the Berks County Detention Center, and the effort of the Shut Down Berks Coalition to get Governor Wolf to close it, due to multiple illegalities and horrific conditions for the approximately 30 immigrant families detained there indefinitely.  More complete information is in this flyer.  A simple thing that anyone can do is to go onto their pages on Facebook or Twitter and like/follow them.  If you can do more, please follow their directions there for sending a video message to Governor Wolf as part of their April campaign.

Also, a project of Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS), Amnesty International and RAICES, is collecting hand-written cards for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day  to send to families detained at Berks County Residential Center. It’s an opportunity to send these families a message of solidarity and hope. It’s a great thing to do with your kids!  To participate, download this toolkit.

News:

Monica and Jeimy and have been nominated for PICC Community Leader and Youth Leader Awards – You can vote for them here!  

And, you can also nominate Casa San José for the Best Nonprofit ballot for the annual CityPaper Best of Pittsburgh poll.

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Leaders Prayer Breakfast took place on April 13 at 7:30 am, with 1000 attendees.  Sr. Janice was there with our community members, Griselda, Aracely, Maria de la Luz, Chelo, Maria Clara, and Eliana.Sr Janice prayer breakfast

 

Our story, continued:

Last week Sr. Janice sent this message:  “We need a volunteer for this Sunday 15th to pick up a 18 year old named Angel.”  A wonderful Amiga, Ruth Farrell, responded and tells the story here.

Angel’s 18th Birthday

My husband and I had a truly beautiful experience this past Sunday morning.  Instead of heading to church, we headed to Family Links where we were to meet Angel on his 18th birthday.  We did not know Angel and the brownies I had baked for his birthday seemed a bit trivial.  Angel was what is called in the news “an Unaccompanied Minor” who was detained at the border, transferred to the Unaccompanied Youth Shelter in Pittsburgh and on his 18th birthday was being picked up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and delivered to Family Links, a Pittsburgh shelter for young adults.   And as the ICE officials told me, Angel was fortunate.  Because Angel had a strong case to stay in the USA and because his father lived in Miami, ICE was not taking him to a detention center but was releasing him to go to Miami to await his hearing.

Casa San Jose is a welcome center for all immigrants, and as you can imagine, they receive calls for assistance for anything having to do with a Spanish speaker.  And so they were called to be at Family Links to meet the ICE officers to receive Angel and then ensure that Angel was met by family who would get him to Florida.  Casa San Jose was looking for any volunteer who could do that this Sunday morning.

Earlier that morning I thought a lot about Angel wondering what it would be like to wake up for your 18th birthday and have that mean that you could no longer stay in the shelter that had been home, that you would be getting in a van with ICE officers, that you would be taken to place you had never heard of and meet people you had never known and that all of this would culminate in seeing your father whom you had not seen for many years.   I pictured an anxious young man, ICE officers who must not have hearts, and an institutional shelter that was doing its best against formidable odds.

I must report that the manager at Family Links was kind and welcoming. The ICE officers were actually nice and apologetic that they weren’t sure if Angel understood the court date and place in Florida that was buried in the file they had given him.  They realized it was his 18th birthday and seemed genuinely happy that they weren’t taking him to an adult detention center.   Angel could not stop smiling as he talked on the phone with his father.  Like any teenager his shyness melted away as he told us about the friends he had at the shelter and wondered if there was any way we could find out how his team did in a soccer tournament the next Saturday. He told us that he wants to be a mechanic.  An uncle who left Guatemala when Angel was a toddler came to meet Angel and take him to Florida.   We prayed before they left – for Angel and his family, for safe travels, for the court and for immigration law in this country.

As Angel pulled away in the car, I realized I would remember his 18th birthday as well as I remembered the birthdays of my own kids.  And even though we missed our morning worship service, this experience felt as much like genuine worship as the service we missed.

Regretfully, Angel is not unique.  Every “unaccompanied minor”, boys and girls, must leave youth housing when they turn 18, i.e. become an adult.  For those that have strong cases, they have to find housing as they await their court dates.  Sometimes they need housing for a night or two as they await family members; sometimes they need it for several weeks.  Sometimes they can get into an adult shelter like Family Links.  Sometimes beds are not available.  Casa San Jose is looking for volunteers to do what we did – meet ICE to receive the 18-year old, and depending upon the situation, offer food and shelter.   Speaking Spanish helps, but it isn’t necessary as these children are learning English and their biggest need is simply a safe place to stay.   If you are interested in hosting, please contact Casa San Jose at office@casasanjose.org.

Ruth Farrell, April 20, 2018

More to view:

“Thousands of immigrants could benefit from Supreme Court ruling, lawyers say”, Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, April 18.

“Trump Administration Wants to Shut Door on Abused Women:  To cut back on immigration, Sessions wants to remove domestic abuse as a legal justification for seeking asylum”, Julia Preston, Politico, April 17.

WCPO-TV in Cincinnati has a full-time “comics journalist” on staff. He illustrates serious stories that others might avoid, stories that are difficult to photograph because the subjects are too vulnerable.  His Living in the Shadows” is a comic about a Cincinnati teenager and her Ohio family, and how their lives are complicated every day by our immigration system.

Thank you for joining us!

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