News for Amigos de Casa San José: April 22, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

Call on Governor Wolf (717-787-2500 or on social media) to #ShutDownBerks and end family detention.  The Shut Down Berks Coalition is sponsoring a call in day on Wednesday, April 24, and our partner PICC has offered these talking points:

  • The Berks County Detention Center is violating state regulations by incarcerating children and parents.
  • Governor Tom Wolf, Lt. Governor John Fetterman, and PA Dept of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller should immediately use the full extent of their power to end family detention in Pennsylvania by issuing an Emergency Removal Order.
  • Instead of detaining immigrant families, the state should focus its energy and resources into converting the Berks Detention Center into a drug treatment facility that provides Berks County residents with affordable and quality care.

How you can help:

Please Save the Date – Friday June 28 – for our second annual fundraising event: Fiesta del Sol!  More information is on its way.  If you would like to volunteer to help in any way, please contact Marisa at mmtobias28@gmail.com.

Stand Against Racism – Join YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s Center for Race and Gender Equity for the 2019 Stand Against Racism. This year’s campaign features a panel discussion with leaders from Casa San Jose and the Latino Community Center, where we will discuss this year’s campaign theme No Hate. No Fear. Immigrant Justice is Racial Justice.

  • When: Friday, April 26, 2019 – 11AM-1PM
  • Where: YWCA Greater Pittsburgh: 305 Wood Street, Downtown Pittsburgh

Attend these two terrific free events, sponsored by the Battle of Homestead Foundation:

News on what we’re doing:


Our Doorknocking Campaign took place over 2 weekends, and reached hundreds of households in Beechview and East Liberty, home to many immigrants.  We had scores of volunteers doing door-to-door canvassing and educating residents on how to safely respond to ICE, and how to support their immigrant neighbors when ICE comes. Many households signed up to be a part of the Community Zone, and put up posters (pictured) in their windows.  It is part of our effort create zones of support and protection for all!

Mexican consulate visit

On April 13, Casa organized the visit of the Mobile Mexican Consulate in Pittsburgh, where Mexican government officials spent a day at Central Catholic High School assisting Mexican citizens living here to get needed documents and information.  There were also Know Your Rights sessions, legal consultations with Justice At Work attorneys, representatives from the Census, and from Bigburgh.com (a site that locates free social services), and also delicious food from our community members!

The Unafraid

On April 2, Ibania spoke to a full theater of high school students from 5 local schools at a film screening of  “The Unafraid at the SouthsideWorks Cinema, organized by Teen Screen. This feature-length film follows the lives of three DACA students in Georgia, where they are banned from attending their top state universities and disqualified from receiving in-state tuition.  Ibania also brought a DACA recipient to share her own experience here.  The event revealed to our students what it means to grow up both American and undocumented in the United States, and many of them went on to write their legislators in support of the Dreamers.

Our story, continued:

Our story this week is about three hardworking independent single mothers.  Marta, Lorena, and Estela (not their real names) are all Casa clients who made the harsh journey from perilous home countries – two from Mexico and one from Guatemala, overcame difficult domestic situations, and are now taking the proper steps to achieve a characteristic American immigration goal: becoming entrepreneurs.

Pilar and Veronica, Casa’s Service Coordinators and Bilingual Navigators, have been helping them make a life in Pittsburgh, guiding them in finding housing, schools, English classes, healthcare, legal advice and employment. They then each asked how to take the next step:  using their cooking skills to create a business. Casa connected them with Guillermo Velazquez at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation (PHDC) which is building a business incubator in Beechview, and which takes businesses through their start-up procedures.  He advised these women, locating licensed kitchens and leading them through the complex permit and licensing process.  Marta plans to cater to construction workers onsite, and for events. Lorena plans to open a restaurant, and Estela wants a food truck.

Casa San José assists immigrants in many ways, and one of them is through ISAC (Immigrant Services & Connections,) working to connect immigrants living in Allegheny County to the region’s services, programs, and communities.  Pilar and Veronica are our ISAC experts, who use a holistic approach to take families all the way to independence, integration, and ideally citizenship.  For these strong women, Marta, Lorena and Estela, this means pursuing a classic American dream as well.

Learn more:

“Congress needs to step up to protect Dreamers”, Wayne D. Fontana, Pennsylvania Capital Star, March 27.  This is a PA state perspective from our State Senator from the 42nd Senatorial District (South Hills.)

“I left El Salvador to protect my family: it didn’t work”, Isai Rodriguez, New York Times, April 15.

“US says it could take 2 years to identify up to thousands of separated families”, Julia Jacobs, New York Times, April 6.

“Someone is always trying to kill you:  the United States cannot erect a wall and expect women to resign themselves to being slaughtered”, Sonia Nazario, New York Times, April 5.

The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) is a think tank and an educational institute devoted to the study of international migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees and newcomers.

“The root causes of migration in Central American countries”, Audie Cornish, NPR, March 6.

Thank you for joining us!

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