Dear Casa San José Amigos,
Welcome back to our email newsletter!
Just a few things this week, now that Christmas is behind us and a New Year ahead.
First, many, many thanks to all our generous donors and volunteers this year! For instance, our latest fundraiser established an Immigrant Family Legal Fund, to provide legal assistance to immigrant families impacted by ICE arrests and detentions. With your help we reached our matching goal with the Jefferson Regional Foundation Match Fund in just a few days! And all year we were graced with the efforts of many volunteers doing a multitude of things to help, from building shelves to registering voters to attending rallies to accompanying clients to ICE check-ins – too many things to count. We could not do our work without you. ¡MIL GRACIAS!
Second, we would like to show you how our youth fared in their journey to Arizona in November:
Our story, continued: At the border in Nogales
In the midst of so much political talk about The Wall, we have been reading the personal, eloquent reports of our young people, who returned recently from their trip to the border in Nogales, AZ. Casa sponsored the trip with generous help from our Amigos and funders. Luis, Leo, Genelle, Alex, Jeovani, Ernesto, and Adriana spent 4 days there, during which they had, in their own words, extraordinarily powerful and unforgettable experiences. They were among a group of 56 people from Pittsburgh, attending the annual Border Encuentro. Veronica and Laura accompanied them.
- They attended the court case of Jose Antonio Rodriguez, a Mexican teenager, on Mexican soil, who was shot and killed by a border patrol agent through slots in the fence from the US side of the border. “After the court hearing, the grandmother came out and thanked us for being there. This really touched me and made me feel like I was actually helping someone.” “To see the images of the evidence and hear the facts of the case was heartrending.”
- They demonstrated outside the notoriously brutal Eloy Detention Center. “It was a very emotional night. We sang really loud so they could hear us.” “We protested for those being detained and those who died due to lack of medical attention. We saw the prisoners through the window FIGHTING along with us.” “We said things like ‘no estás solo’. This small phrase holds a lot of meaning and I could tell that it brought hope to the people inside because they would flash their room lights on and off.”
- They had a direct experience of the border. “It was really emotional because we got to feel and see how a wall is separating the two great countries, and how people die to cross to have a better life.” “When we went to the border I saw they made it worse because last year it didn’t have barbed wire at the top and then at the bottom it had a barrier so that people weren’t able to hold each other’s hands.””Also, because some of the people were unable to cross the border, I was able to experience how it feels to be separated from your loved ones by just one wall.”
- They participated in a ceremony at the border naming all the people who had died trying to cross it. “It took 2 hours and 30 minutes to name all the people.” “I got very emotional when I saw how my parents could have been some of those people.”
- They went to workshops and watched the documentary Undeterred (you can see it too right here.) “Seeing real videos of people being ripped out of their cars made me realize how real this type of power abuse is in so many people’s day-to-day lives.”
- They also had some fun. They went hiking in the desert, and Leo recalled “the good ol’ times when we would go hiking in my abuelos’ rancho.” They watched the sunset. They took part in a puppet show, and went to a Mexican restaurant, but “nothing surpasses my mom’s food.”
- “In my head I was just thinking, how is it possible in the world to have this many injustices and tragedies. I couldn’t hold back the tears. Overall this trip really inspired me to do great things and to keep fighting for the rights that human beings deserve.”
- “I hope and pray that horrible wall will be torn down so we all can love each other and live a life where we don’t have to worry about how people die every day trying to cross the border.”
- “I think something that will help is to change kids’ education, where they are taught how many people are suffering – many don’t know this is happening in the world.”
- “I thought, how can people do that to their brothers, to the same people, like we are all human beings and they are killing us as if we were animals. I think that we are all one.”
- “It made me realize that we all need to work together to help those who are trying to seek refuge for their families and loved ones.”
- “The last day when they named all the people who died on the border, among them was José Antonio, and his mother said some beautiful words, mentioning the people of Pittsburgh, and her words reached into my heart.”
Last but not least: !Muy Feliz Año Nuevo!!