News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 16, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

Our 3rd Zona de Respaldo door-knocking will happen in Beechview on Saturday, June 22, and we really need allies to show up.  As a canvasser, you will create a safer neighborhood for Latinxs by knocking on doors in pairs, educating residents on how to safely respond to ICE. Join us as we find ways to protect and defend one another. You’ll get a beautiful Casa San Jose t-shirt.  The last 2 teams loved the experience, so bring your friends!  Please contact Laura to sign up:  laura@casasanjose.org.

Please call your state legislators ASAP – budget will be voted on soon: Because of a new Census Bureau push to add a citizenship question that would frighten immigrants, PA is at risk of an undercount in the 2020 Census, meaning not only a big loss of federal funds for education, transportation, healthcare, etc., but a loss of representation.  PA legislators are right now negotiating about budgeting a public fund of $12.8 million to prevent such an undercount, and time is running out. We need your help asking them to do this.  Here are two ways to do this easily:  handy tool #1, and handy tool #2.

HUD is now proposing a rule that would either evict “mixed-status” families from government-subsidized housing or force family members to live separately.  So for instance, a US citizen living in subsidized housing, whose brother is applying for asylum and temporarily staying with her, would face eviction unless the brother moved out. HUD’s own analysis says that 108,000 people would be affected. About 70% of them are citizens or legal residents and 55,000 are children. This is yet another cruel attack on immigrants and poor people. We will let the government know that we will not stand for it. Public comment will be received until July 9.  Please join us and our partners at our Comment Party, Tuesday July 2, 6pm, East Liberty Presbyterian Church, McKelvy Room.  More info. here.

How you can help:

This would be so helpful for us:  Come to Fiesta del Sol!  Get your tickets here.

Fiesta del sol image1

Do you have a dehumidifier that you could donate?  We have a VERY humid basement, and sadly, ours has just stopped working.  If you can help, please contact Sister Karen at srkaren@casasanjose.org

News on what we’re doing:

On Sunday and Monday this week, Casa had a delegation at the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition’s 2019 Immigrant and Refugee Rights Convening in Harrisburg.  We brought community members and staff, along with our partners from the Women’s Shelter, Thomas Merton Center and ARYSE, and all participated in lobbying PA legislators, learning from workshops, training in leadership skills, and sharing their stories.  One of our community members was nominated for PICC’s Leadership Award, and another spoke movingly about education from the Capitol Rotunda steps.

Ibania despedida2

We sadly said farewell to Ibania Rivas, our Community Organizer, who will be heading west with her two beautiful children to Indiana.  She has done great work to help our community know their rights, take on leadership roles, and make their way forward in our city and country.  We will miss her greatly!

We are celebrating with our youth as they graduate from high school this year. Pictured are Fatima, Moises, and Jeovani from Brashear High School, who have been an important part of our Jóvenes con Propósito program.  We wish them all the very best as they take their strong leadership skills into future. ¡Pa delante!

Monica went on CBS Pittsburgh’s Kidsburgh Kidscast in a special bilingual edition, to help Latino families understand the laws concerning school, car seats, health insurance and more. Watch it here.

Ibania organized a visit for 26 Guatemalans to their consulate in MD to get passports, consular IDs and other documents needed to plead their asylum cases, among other things.  Many have ankle monitors, so we had to notify ICE that they were leaving the state temporarily.  They left at 4:30 am and got back around 8.  There is a waiting list already for the next visit.

We salute Dr. Diego Chaves-Gnecco as the 2019 Pediatrician of the Year by the American Academy of Pediatrics, PA chapter! In 2002, Dr. Diego created the first Pediatric Bilingual-Bicultural Clinic in Southwestern Pennsylvania, which has expanded to the program Salud Para Niños.  It provides culturally and linguistically competent primary care for children and families, and works to empower immigrants about their own health. He has helped our community members immeasurably over many years.

Our story, continued:

Roger, Brian and Wilmar 2

In February, Casa volunteer Roger Day received this email from Sister Valerie: “We received a request from one of our families for tutoring for their children – Ryan (10 yrs old) and Oscar (7). (We’re not using real names.)  Both need help with Reading and Math. Would be available weekdays after 6:00PM.”  He said yes, and reports that he is “having a blast.”

Roger has been connected with Casa San José for years, helping out with our Saturday programs and playing his tuba with Bésame and Musuhallpa for parties and fundraisers.  But as the severity and injustice of our government’s treatment of immigrants have ramped up, he wanted to do more. He hadn’t taught children before – though he taught graduate students in statistics and programming at the University of Pittsburgh, and mentors high school students at a summer health sciences academy.

But for these boys, he is finding there are many free and accessible educational resources for children – videos, simulation programs, apps, not to mention the slicing of a virtual pizza – that open up a world of mathematics at just the right level, leading to the introduction of Fibonacci numbers, Pascal’s Triangle and chess.  He also reads to them from readily available and marvelous children’s books – Dr. Seuss, Charlotte’s Web, Berenstain Bears – to captivate and expand their imaginations, and develop language skills that go beyond grammar.  He says that the curriculum “seems to be creating itself and pulling me along. These kids deserve the credit, they are so attentive, and funny, and get along so well!” Roger also tutors Jennie, 10 years old, who has some academic challenges, but he has found that giving her a positive experience in a safe place has boosted her self-esteem, and “when she felt capable, the light shone, and there were high fives with Mom.”

There are many positive side effects. Simple practical knowledge about life in our city can be shared with new arrivals.  This family was buying bottled water in quantity because they worried about lead in the tap water, and Roger was able to provide a water filter. Most importantly, parents can see that Americans welcome their families and offer respect and care.

Roger’s advice to other tutors is: “Be patient, open their eyes to possibilities, make sure they are challenged at the right level, and have fun!” He surely is, and finds that “these muchachos are utterly delightful companions.”

Learn more:

“The world’s malnourished children don’t need a $295 burger:  a quarter of the world’s children are stunted from inadequate diets,” Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, June 12.  This is a report based in Guatemala on severe child malnutrition there and elsewhere.

“‘Food Doesn’t Grow Here Anymore. That’s Why I Would Send My Son North:  A stark choice for some Guatemalans: watch crops wither, and maybe die with them, or migrate”, Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, June 5. More excellent reporting from this columnist on the reasons for immigration from Guatemala.

“Trump administration cancels English classes, soccer, legal aid for unaccompanied child migrants in U.S. shelters”, Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, June 5.  More attacks on children.

“The Census citizenship question is ‘a great way to undercount Latinos’
They want to be part of this exercise in democracy. But many are afraid.”  Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times, June 15.

“Where 2020 Democrats stand on Immigration”, Washington Post, June 11.  This explores the immigration policies of all those hopefuls.

“A new generation of ‘un-DACAmented’ high school graduates fights hurdles to higher ed”, Marnette Federis, PRI’s The World, June 10.  Young immigrant grads, because DACA accepts no new applicants, “can’t access most financial aid or scholarships, can’t work after they obtain degrees, and don’t have any protection from deportation.”

Thank you for joining us!


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