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

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter, which will be taking an August break.  See you in September!

How to take action:

Latest attack on immigrants, in effect right now: Trump has ordered a vast expansion by DHS of ‘expedited removal,‘ permitting agents to rapidly deport a much larger category of undocumented immigrants, bypassing immigration judges.  ICE officers can now replace both judge and jury which is a clear violation of due process. An estimated 300,000 people are at risk of immediate arrest and deportation, not to mention predicted mistaken deportations of nonwhite citizens.  Stay tuned for suggested actions; for now, speak out whenever you can.

Please keep urging Governor Wolf to shut down the Berks Family Residential Center, the only family immigrant detention center in the state.  It has a history of abuse and poor conditions; Gov. Wolf has tried to revoke its license, only to be countermanded by a judge.  He still has the power to close it through an Emergency Removal Order (ERO.)  Ask him to use it. Write a postcard to: Gov. Tom Wolf, 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120 or call his office at 717-787-2500. Also write Lt. Gov. John Fetterman at 200 Main Capitol Bldg, Harrisburg, 17120, or call him at 717-787-3300.  More information and resources here.

How you can help:

One of the best ways to combat family separation is to contribute to an immigrant bond fund, of which there are many around the country.  Here in Pittsburgh, you can go to https://casasanjose.org/donate/ to support our Fondo Solidario (which appears in the “reason for donation” box.) It helps get people out of prison on bond, so they can fight their case at home with the loving support of their families and much easier access to legal help.

News on what we’re doing:

LFL crowd photo

On July 12, Casa, with many organization partners, led the Lights for Liberty Vigil in Schenley Plaza, joining people in more than 800 other cities around the world.  Over 600 people heard moving stories and prayers, and lit candles and sang together backed by the May Day Marching Band.  Hundreds of postcards were written to Governor Wolf to immediately shut down Berks Detention Center, and we called for a stop to the persecution and terrorization of migrants at the border and here at home.


Campamento Sonrisa wrapped up its first session, and is about to begin its second, based in Beechview from July 22 through August 15, with its 20 kids, with counselors and helpers, having fun all over town.

In the news:

  • Monica, Laura, and Veronica were featured on 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence on Friday, talking about ICE raids, ICE presence in Pittsburgh, and ways you can be a better ally.  Listen to it here.
  • In response to threatened ICE raids, Casa’s Emergency Response Organizer Laura Perkins was interviewed on KDKA TV News, to discuss how ICE arrests here in Pittsburgh are extraordinarily high for the number of undocumented immigrants in the region.  Unlike the police, whose goal is safety, ICE designs its raids to instill fear, characteristic of terrorism.  Also, Sister Janice spoke on KDKA Radio Morning News on Monday to explain how immigrants are feeling as ICE raids begin to take place.  You can see Laura here, and listen to Sr. Janice here.
  • Monica was interviewed by the City Paper about how Pennsylvania has the most aggressive immigration officers in the country, and also spoke at the Battle of Homestead Foundation – watch it here.

Laura at ELPC

On Monday, July 2nd, Casa San José, with Just Harvest’s Power of the Pen series, inspired an overflow crowd who came to the East Liberty Presbyterian Church to write legislators, protesting HUD’s proposed rule to evict mixed-status families from public housing. For more information, visit: https://www.keep-families-together.org/resources

Casa youth speaking at Harrisburg Driving PA Forward

In Harrisburg, first Casa youth (pictured) joined other Pennsylvanians fighting for driver’s licenses for their undocumented immigrant parents, with the organization Driving PA Forward.  More information on that here.  Then Veronica represented Casa as we joined PICC, the ACLU of PA, and community members and advocates in Harrisburg to support the ACLU’s lawsuit against the state police stopping and illegally detaining immigrants and refugees. More information on the lawsuit is here.

Fiesta del sol image1

And of course, our Fiesta del Sol fundraiser on June 28 was a wonderful event and we send out profound thanks to all of our supporters for their generosity and encouragement.

We thank Global Wordsmiths, which starting July 1 is offering free certified legal translations for asylum seekers.

Our story, continued:

Emma, Vero, Kim, Zohra, and Sienna

Emma (pictured at left, next to Casa’s Community Organizer Veronica Lozada, and other allies) is a 10-year-old Pittsburgh immigrant-rights activist.  At the Lights for Liberty Vigil on July 12, she addressed the crowd of over 500.  The poems she read were written by another young Pittsburgher, Samantha Esquivel-Hernandez, whose father Martín was deported by ICE in 2017.

To My Beloved Father (excerpted)

No matter how hard we tried we still know you won’t come back

I remember those people who put you in jail they called you a criminal and a thief

But something that they didn’t see was that they were the criminals because they stole you away from me

Because of them I still miss all your smiles and all your company

You would always stop what you were doing just to make me happy

Not having you here makes my heart all empty

Other people might come and be here with me

But it wont be the same as it used to be when it was just you and me

Perhaps you might never come back or maybe you will, but I don’t know that. Perhaps this is our will. If so, I’ll be here standing still.

To my beloved father I still love you no matter what, and maybe that day when we see each other will never come. But the only thing that can mend this suffering pain is when we may meet again.

Learn more:

“Warning Of Danger To Children, Psychologists Urge Wolf To Close Detention Center”, Katie Meyer, WESA, July 18.

“Thousands of unaccompanied migrant children could be detained indefinitely.” Graham Kates, Manuel Bojorquez, and Angel Canales, CBS News, July 23.

“Pittsburgh has the most ICE arrests in the country,” Ryan Deto, Pittsburgh CityPaper, July 2.

“Pro-immigrant groups advocate for drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition for non-citizens”, Ryan Deto, Pittsburgh CityPaper, June 19.

“How PA Localities Help ICE:  A report released last Tuesday details how some county jails and police departments in PA help ICE deport immigrants”, Nigel Thompson, Al Día, July 3. (Veronica is quoted here.)

“Trump Is Dumping Asylum Seekers on American Streets—but Solidarity Activists Are Fighting Back”, Sasha Abramsky, The Nation, July 1.

Thank you for joining us!


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