News for Amigos de Casa San José: Aug. 1, 2018

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


Join us for a celebration party on Aug. 3 during First Friday on Penn Ave., 7 pm – midnight, 5120 Penn Avenue!  Dinner all night with homemade food downstairs; and upstairs a dance floor, drink bar, and live performances by the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, the Mayday Marching Band, DJ Scotty, and DJ Mary Mack!  Casa San Jose is raising funds to send immigrant families, youth, DACA folks & allies down to Arizona to protest the border wall and to reunite a Pittsburgh family in AZ.

Also come to our lunch sale for immigrant justice every Friday afternoon 11 am – 2:30 pm at the same place, 5120 Penn Ave.  Tamales, fried plaintains, flan, etc. – fame of their deliciousness is spreading – last week we sold out!  And please help us spread the word and make this trip possible!!


One of our partners, the New Sanctuary Movement Pittsburgh is having a planning event on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6:30 – 9:30 at the Sixth Presbyterian Church, corner of Forbes and Murray.  Please “come and be part of this collaborative process! Bring your conviction, your compassion, and your creativity as we come together to support our neighbors.”

Still needed: From PICC:  protest the plan to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census.  The Trump administration Commerce Dept. wants to add a new question about citizenship status in the upcoming census, which will intimidate and depress responses among all immigrants.  This will result in an inaccurate census, and cause urban and other historically undercounted areas to lose billions in federal funds and also government representation.  The public comment period on the decision to include the question is now open, but you need to act fast:  submit your comments here by Aug. 7.


Most exciting NEWS!!  We are delighted to announce that Monica Ruiz-Caraballo assumed the position of Executive Director of Casa San José on July 30.  Board Chairperson Jackie Abel-Stavropoulos writes in her letter to supporters, “Ms. Ruiz not only brings a deeply passionate advocacy to this leadership position, but also a solid background in organizing and engaging with community partners who share the mission of Casa San José.   Sister Janice Vanderneck, who has been serving as interim Executive Director, will continue her work as Director of Civic Engagement. Casa San José is blessed to have compassionate leaders and passionate advocates – in both Ms. Ruiz and Sister Janice – who continue to move our organization forward by addressing the critical needs of our Latino neighbors.”

Our Story, continued:

Recently we needed to provide emergency help to three sisters from Honduras. One, Karina (no real names are given) was living in a small dank unfinished basement in Beechview with her child, about to be evicted and potentially homeless.  She worked cleaning houses but only earned enough to afford this place, which was so substandard that Allegheny County CYS ruled that no child could be allowed to live there. On Monday, she was told they had to leave, and came to the Casa office in distress.

Meanwhile, her two sisters, Elena and Marta, with a child each, were on a bus that would arrive in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.  They had been months on the road through Mexico, making the grueling journey north to join her, believing that she was in a position to sponsor them.  These sisters were fleeing violent threats and extortion by Maras 18, one of many brutal gangs terrorizing Hondurans. They operated a hair salon, and couldn’t come up with the $5000 demanded of them at gunpoint.  After 2 days in line on a bridge, they made it across the border and after 2 weeks of detention in Texas, had been released pending trial on the basis of their sister’s sponsoring them.  Immigration officials put them on a bus for a 2-day journey to Pittsburgh; they had no money to buy food, but fellow passengers bought them sandwiches.

Then, according to our service coordinator Veronica, “magic happened.” She located a temporary home in our area through the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth; one of our volunteers picked up the sisters and their children at the bus station; donations were collected at our office to provide them with gift cards for food and necessities.  Within a week, full-time hotel housekeeping jobs were found for two of the sisters and by the second week they all moved into a good apartment in Beechview, with furnishings and household goods donated by Angel’s Place.  They are learning English with an ESL tutor who volunteers at Casa, and one of them has started using Duolingo on her phone.  The hotel manager is very pleased with their work.  The children will register for school in the fall.  We hope they are on their way to permanent residency and becoming a thriving part of our community.


“Living in Limbo: A Guide to Understanding Your Rights, Benefits, and Obligations When You Have No Immigration Status”, ILRC – Immigrant Legal Resource Center, July 20.

Volunteers on the march!

“‘Deleted families’: what went wrong with Trump’s family separation effort – why hundreds of migrant children are still separated from their parents”, Nick Miroff et al, Washington Post, July 28.

“Trump administration must stop giving psychotropic drugs to migrant children without consent, judge rules”, Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, July 31.

“The Shadow War to Reshape the Face of America”, Carlos Guevara, UnidosUS, Medium, July 13.

“To avoid deportation, undocumented immigrants forego Medicaid for their American children”, PBS Newshour, June 25.

Video:  “The immigrants deported to death and violence”, Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker, Jan 1.

Looking for an enlightening summer read?  The Santa Cruz County Immigration Project and Bookstore Santa Cruz have a Recommended Reading List (and also an appendix list) with many inspiring, moving, and vivid portrayals of immigrants’ lives – often delightful, showing a whole other side from the tragedies in the news.  It’s often said that we learn best about the internal lives of others through stories:  here are some from the world’s most accomplished writers.

Thank you for joining us!

(This message is also posted on our website:  casasanjose.org.)

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