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

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

To all of the people who donated or shared our #GivingTuesdayPittsburgh page: thank you so much for believing in us. Our original goal was to raise $10,000. We have raised almost $12,000!!  We won the Give Big Pittsburgh prize for the organization that raised the most in the “small budget” category, and we were in the top 15 of the most unique donors!  It is an honor to serve our community and to have so many people believe in our work. You all are a part of our Casa family and we look forward to building together in the future.

How to take action:

Protecting Immigrant Families image

There is still a short time to protest the new Public Charge Rule, with the devastating changes proposed by the Department of Homeland Security.  This rule change will penalize immigrants for using the few benefits that are available to them or their (often American citizen) children, denying them any future eligibility for US citizenship.  Just the possibility of its passing has created a climate of fear among all immigrants, who are afraid to participate in any public health (including vaccinations), housing, or nutrition programs.  Two ways to participate:

  1. Come to the “Speak Out Against Public Charge” event on Monday, Dec. 3, 6-8 pm, Human Services Building, 1 Smithfield St. downtown.  More info. here.  OR
  2. Send in a comment on your own, which is easy to do online! You can do it through the link provided by “Protecting Immigrant Families”  OR directly through the official US Government site at regulations.gov , where you  paste this: USCIS-2010-0012 – into the search box, click on Search, and then click on “Comment Now.”  Need suggestions?  PICC and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia created a toolkit to help.  All comments on this proposed rule must be submitted by Dec. 10, 2018.

How you can help:

From Sister Janice and the Leadership Council of Women Religious:  The San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDOP, ACLU, and Jewish Family Services) is sheltering refugees and helping them to move on to their final destination.  They have housed, fed, taken care of and reunited hundreds of families.  San Diego is the largest land border crossing in the world and has been a highly active location for deportations, rights violations and abuse by Customs & Border Protection and ICE.  Funding is their number 1 need:

News on what we’re doing:


Announcement:  welcome to our new Community Organizer, Ibania Rivas! Ibania is a native of El Salvador, who has devoted 20 years to non-profit work supporting people in need.  She grew up on a coffee farm, and ultimately graduated from the University of El Salvador with a degree in Economics.  She began helping those living in conflict-affected zones of the civil war, especially vulnerable youth, at-risk farmers and families. She spent 16 years working on development projects at Catholic Relief Services in El Salvador and became a program manager, before coming to Pittsburgh last year.  In a recent interview she said, “I believe everyone needs compassion, but beyond that we all need motivation, new ideas, space to learn and grow and develop as human beings who can contribute to making our society better.” We are so glad to have Ibania on the Casa San José team!

Another announcement: 

East Liberty

Our East Liberty Office is open! Under the coordination of Ruth Farrell, with intern Anna Clark, on Monday and Wednesday mornings, Casa San José “East” is working with our community living in the East End, helped by the generosity of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, which is donating the space and other services in their beautiful building, including donations from their Sunday school offering.  They assist local immigrant Latino families with legal status, learning English, and integrating into the Pittsburgh community.  They help fill out applications and leases, provide clothing from the ELPC’s free store, translate forms and bills, arrange ESL classes (8 have signed up so far!), make and drive to appointments, and provide homework help – both for the students and for their parents who want to learn to help them. Casa’s family is growing!

Council chamber

Casa had a significant presence at Mayor Peduto’s press conference on Wednesday, where he criticized the Trump administration’s attempt to change the rules determining “public charge”.  Pictured from left are:  Casa’s Community Organizer Ibania Rivas, Emergency Response Organizer Laura Perkins, Youth Community Outreach Coordinator Jeimy Ibarra, and Director Monica Ruiz.  Also speaking at the event were: Monica, Rev. B. DeNeice Welch from PIIN, State Representative Summer Lee, and Kristin Schneck, immigration attorney on our board.

Community meeting

Our community meeting on Wednesday discussed and answered questions about the “public charge” rule change and the impact it would have.  We also had presentations from Megan Lovett and Rafael Bullones from the Community Justice Project, and Lindsey Matesic from the Idea Foundry about legal services and entrepreneurship assistance that they can offer our community.

Our story, continued:

This is a story showing how fear of the public charge rule change is already having a chilling effect, even before it has passed.  At our East Liberty office, Lucinda, a woman in her 50’s who has a green card, came in with her daughter to ask about health insurance:  her doctor told her that she needed surgery.  Ruth determined that she would be eligible for a reasonable policy under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and so they sat down together to begin the application process.  About halfway through, Lucinda suddenly asked Ruth to stop.  She recalled that she had heard rumors – untrue in this case, even if the rule passed – of how participation in any kind of public program would make her forever ineligible for citizenship.  Private insurance outside of the ACA would be prohibitively expensive or unavailable due to her pre-existing condition. She left without applying, and we don’t know how this story will end.

Learn more:

Something to be aware of:  Amazon and other tech companies are enabling and supporting ICE arrests and deportations.

Family separations – more than reported, and ongoing

Thank you for joining us!

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