News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 29, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

There is a lot happening now, especially around detention camps and ICE roundups, so this is longer than usual:

Call or write your legislators.

and tell them, as their constituent, that you want detained children to be immediately returned to their families; all detention conditions to be made safe, sanitary, and humane; investigations to be undertaken; and impending ICE raids to be called off.  Emphasize the urgency of the situation and ask what they are doing NOW to solve these problems without adding more enforcement actions.

Contact local officials to ask that they make plans to help immigrant communities that are affected by the raids. Find your city, county and town officials (also federal and state) here.

The City of Pittsburgh Police Department does not cooperate with ICE. If you live out of the city, please call and ask your mayor and local police department to not cooperate with ICE.

Report and document raids and arrests. By all means if you see an ICE raid in progress, record it on your phone if you can, and report it immediately to Casa San José’s Rapid Response Line – 412.736.7167.  But please be careful to avoid a false alarm, which could spread fear in immigrant communities. To help identify an ICE arrest, you can read about ICE raids and immigrant rights from the Immigrant Defense Project, or watch the “We Have Rights” videos from the ACLU.

Show your support for immigrants in your neighborhood.  Casa San José can provide “Zona de Respaldo” posters for your windows that show your commitment to assist immigrants at risk: contact Laura at laura@casasanjose.org to get one.  There are also colorful signs that say “”No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in Spanish and Arabic – you can order them or download a free .pdf from WelcomeYourNeighbors.org – or pick one up at our office at 2116 Broadway.  We hear all the time that these are very reassuring.

Donate:  Many immigrant support organizations are doing heroic work to provide legal help, human services, and advocacy to targeted populations, and funding makes them stronger. Of course, Casa San José greatly appreciates your generosity –  donations to us are welcome here.  In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Make the Road PA and Juntos are doing great work. And here is a good list of national organizations that are helping migrant children at the border.

One of the most effective ways to reunite immigrants separated from their families is to assist with paying their bail. You can donate to Casa’s bond fund, our Fondo Solidario. If you would like to do this, please go to our donate page and use the drop down menu to select Fondo Solidario.  (See “Our Story” in this newsletter for an account of its first use!)

Represent!  Protest marches and other civic actions to end detention camps, to halt ICE persecution, and to stand up for immigrant justice count on your presence, your signs and your voices.  We post them here in our newsletter and on our Facebook page.  Right now, we are starting to plan a local vigil in solidarity with the Lights For Liberty movement on July 12 – stay tuned for details!

One more thing that is time-sensitive:  Reminder for the Keep Families Together event happening on Tuesday July 2 at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 116 Highland Ave.  We will write and submit comments to the government protesting the new HUD proposal that would evict mixed-status families from subsidized housing. Over 100,000 families would face either eviction or being torn apart if this rule is put in place. Register here, or just come. Our partners in the event are Just Harvest, Pittsburgh United and the Thomas Merton Center.

How you can help:

For the program listed below, on July 12, we need the following.  

  • a few good souls who can set up and clean up, arriving at 5:45 pm and finishing up around 9.  Address of the program: St. Thomas More Family Life Center, 126 Fort Couch Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15241
  • some home bakers who can contribute cookies and deliver them to the Beechview office, 2116 Broadway Ave., anytime Thursday, July 11, or Friday, July 12 until 4 pm.

If you can do any of this, please contact Sr. Valerie at srvalerie@casasanjose.org.

Please come to this valuable and informative program:  Compassionate Accompaniment and Reflection Experience (CARE) – will inform attendees about what is happening with immigration issues here in Pittsburgh and the South Hills, and describe the CARE program, an initiative connecting faith-based volunteers with community members who are undocumented immigrants. The discussion will be led by Sister Janice Vanderneck from Casa San José, Immigration Attorney Samantha Tamburro, and a member of the Social Justice Seekers.   July 12, 2019, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., St. Thomas More Family Life Center, 126 Fort Couch Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15241.

Do you have any heavy duty shelving and/or a metal cupboard?  We have some storage challenges and could really use some.  If you do, please contact Sr. Karen – srkaren@casasanjose.org.

News on what we’re doing:

Our Fiesta de Sol fundraiser on June 28 was wonderful!  We appreciate so much everyone’s many contributions and support.  More thanks, photos, and details will be in our next newsletter…

We are into the second week of Campamento Sonrisa. Youth Coordinator José Ochoa, East Liberty office manager Ruth Farrell and some great volunteers are taking 18 kids to the Zoo, Children’s Museum, Phipps Conservatory, Highland Park pool and playground, Bathhouse Ceramics Studio, Garfield Community Farm, Gateway Clipper, Nationality Rooms, and Carnegie Science Center as well as doing arts and crafts, and sports.  The photos tell it all!


We held a Father’s Day party and it was a blast!   We personally invited single fathers so that they could be celebrated.  412 food rescue provided two huge boxes of prepared BBQ food.   The kids loved playing with balloons and we taught a group of dads how to braid hair.  Father Fernando and Dr. Diego both came by, in addition to immigration attorney, Samantha Tamburro, her son Saul, and Laura’s dad.

Father's Day event

Legal clinics continue over the summer – we’re having one on June 29.

Monica was one of the speakers at a press conference Tuesday on the portico of the City-County Building, which introduced legislation to strengthen protections for the LGBTQ community,

Our story, continued:

This is an account from volunteer Nathaniel Yap about the latest door-knocking canvass in Beechview:

Last Saturday, along with perhaps four dozen other folks, I volunteered with Casa San Jose to inform our neighbors of how to respond to ICE safely and how to show support for our immigrant community members. It was really encouraging to see that so many of the people with whom we spoke are enthusiastically supportive of the immigrant community and are disturbed by the inhumane treatment that so many people are receiving from our federal government. And one thing I would say is, you never know what people are thinking when you knock on their doors.

There were several occasions where my canvassing partner and I thought we would get a negative response to our message and it would turn out to be the opposite. Example: at one door, an older white man opened the door and was shirtless and extremely well-muscled. Upon hearing that we were talking to neighbors to build support for the immigrant community, he looked at us squarely in the eyes, and sternly said, “I’m a Trump lover.” We summarily thanked him for his time and began to turn away, at which point, he abruptly said, “I’m kidding!” We all shared a good laugh. This man was an open book and shared so many views with us. We admittedly didn’t agree with him on everything, but he did indicate support for the Latino community and for Casa San Jose’s work. He ultimately agreed to take a poster to put up in his window to show his support.

Overall, it was a great canvass. The overwhelming majority of folks were very receptive to our message and our efforts, and we even managed to recruit a new volunteer who was eager to help. It’s truly fulfilling taking action to counter the destructive efforts of the American President. Get involved. I’m still a believer that it makes a difference and will ultimately be what saves America from further decline. Thank you to everyone out there who is doing what they can to turn our deeply damaged country around. Also – a huge thank you to Monica Ruiz-Caraballo, Laura Perkins, and others on the Casa San Jose team – you all are doing truly important work. Thank you!

Nathaniel and Maureen

Learn more:

“Inside a Texas building where the government is holding immigrant children”, Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, June 22.

“Detained migrant children got no toothbrush, no soap, no sleep.  It’s no problem, government argues”, Meagan Flynn, Washington Post, June 21.

“Interlocking systems: how Pennsylvania counties and local police are helping ICE to deport immigrants”, Amy Chin-Arroyo and Solena Laigle, Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University, June, 2019.  This new report reveals the extent of collaboration between PA local governments and ICE.  For instance, “ACLU Says PA Police Are Improperly Racially Profiling And Detaining Drivers,” Katie Meyer, WESA, June 27.

Crossing the border without authorization is a misdemeanor, which is classified as a criminal offense. though a minor one, similar to shoplifting or disorderly conduct.  Immigration hawks use this classification to brand undocumented people as “dangerous” criminals, mislead the public, and separate them from their children.  Some Democratic candidates are calling to change that law (Section 1325 of Title 8 of the U.S.Code) to a civil offense.

“Trump Threatens Census Delay After Supreme Court Leaves Citizenship Question Blocked”, Nina Totenberg, NPR, June 27.

“Where are people detained in the United States” – Freedom for Immigrants maintains the most up-to-date map of the U.S. immigration detention system.

Finally, some good news:

“Drivers licenses [in NY] for the undocumented are approved in a win for progressives”, Vivian Wang, New York Times, June 17.

Thank you for joining us!


Leave a Reply