News for Amigos de Casa San José: September 20, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

Register to vote right here! Or get someone else to! The best way towards justice in immigration policy (and all issues) is through the ballot box on all levels: local, state, and federal. This year, October 7 is the last day to register before the 11/05/2019 election.

Attend the 3rd Annual March for Peace, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 11 am, in Schenley Plaza in Oakland. Every year the U.S. government spends billions financing destructive wars at the expense of needed domestic social and job programs . Help us end Pittsburgh’s role in this global military industrial complex.

How you can help:

Support Casa’s Fondo Solidario and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at LCLAA’s famous Viva Clemente party (tickets and more info. here)! Enjoy authentic Puerto Rican cuisine and live Flamenco music and dance. 80% of all funds raised will go to Casa San José’s fund to assist families impacted by ICE arrests and detentions.

For our upcoming Latino Community Day celebration on October 13, we want to have a “free” raffle for our community members to win a fun gift basket.  Please consider donating one or more of those baskets, by purchasing them on this Amazon list, and you will make some families very happy!  (Purchasing them will send them directly to our office. The shipping may take about a week, so please act fast.)  ¡GRACIAS!

If you’re participating in a United Way campaign, you can direct your contribution to Casa San José! Use Agency Code 11481512.

News on what we’re doing:

Puentes Hacía el Futuro is back! Led by our youth coordinators, José and Angela and our great volunteers, our Saturday program for kids has returned after the summer with music lessons and soccer practice in the great Boys & Girls Club of Carnegie space.

On Sept. 10, free English classes have returned at our East Liberty Office in the East Liberty Presbyterian Church. 20 people signed up the first day! If you know anyone who would be interested, call our office there at (412)339-6666.

Laura is getting daily calls for help on the Emergency Response line concerning situations around ICE detentions. We always need more people for our Rapid Response Team, which provides accompaniments for those who need to present themselves at ICE headquarters or court appearances. Those are often on short notice. If you’d like to be a volunteer who does this, please fill out the volunteer form on our website, and Sister Valerie will contact you.

Speaking out:

  • Monica was interviewed on Comcast Newsmakers about Casa San José and efforts to make the Latino voices heard in Southwestern PA.
  • Independent local news publisher, Pittsburgh Current, did an in-depth podcast interview with Laura, our Emergency Response Organizer, about the impact immigration raids have on families and communities, immigrant rights, and how to be a successful ally. Listen to it here.
  • On Sept. 11 at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Sister Janice did a presentation with Rabbi Ron Symons for Allies in Faith: Encouraging Hospitality to Immigrants. They addressed local religious leaders on theological (faith based) foundations of hospitality and “welcoming the stranger.”

Casa joined the Latinx Student Association as they kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month at the University of Pittsburgh – which has many events coming up, including “Family Separations – Long- and Short-term Effects on Children,” at the Pitt School of Public Health on Oct. 11.

Our story, continued:

After so many tragedies, this is an uplifting story.

Five years ago, our volunteer and inspirational author Anne Kertz Kernion heard, through a contact from Sr. Janice, that two young immigrant boys had just arrived in her North Allegheny school district.  They needed some help getting their immunization shots, and she said she could certainly do that. Unexpectedly, this began a whole new chapter in her family’s life, and literally in one of her books.  Here’s how she put it in A Year of Spiritual Companionship: “Speaking of seeing things, I have two friends, Juan and Michael (not their real names), who are bringing new perspectives to our lives.  They are sixteen-year-old immigrants who made the harrowing trip by themselves from Guatemala, braving rain, hunger, and danger I can’t comprehend – all for the chance of a better life.  We don’t know if they will be allowed to stay, but they are joyful, kind, and thankful for the simplest things.”

Anne said that when she first met Juan at his very modest home, shared with Michael and a few older men also from northern Guatemala, the young man welcomed her as if he were inviting her to a castle, with heartwarming hospitality.  She and her husband soon found themselves proactively looking after the boys’ needs – taking them to the dentist and the oral surgeon, finding clothes and backpacks for school, navigating the banking and transportation systems.  They found that wherever they went together, others also wanted to help – they were immersing themselves in a community of caring.  North Allegheny High School staff and teachers offered enormous support and were deeply sad when the boys had to leave school after just a year to go to work, Juan to a restaurant kitchen.

While Michael found assistance with the Sisters of Charity, Juan remained under Anne’s family’s wing, and they connected him with the legal representation he needed.  But most enjoyable were the outings to discover even common things, and see them anew with his eyes: escalators, bowling balls, the mall, Halloween, the ocean! 

Today, with the help of his lawyer’s skill and diligence, Juan has a T-Visa and a social security card, and the ability to apply for a green card in 2 ½ years.  He can get a driver’s license, can take airplanes, is eligible for financial aid.  While working full-time as the sushi chef in an award-winning restaurant, he’s working on his GED so he can apply to Pitt.  He is a part of Anne’s family now, and though he shows his gratitude often, Anne says that the blessing is much more on their side.  She says, “What we have received is way more than we have given. You can’t pick up every starfish, but you can pick up one.”

Learn more:

Administration appears to reverse decision to deport critically ill children after pressure from Oversight Committee”, U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Press Release, Sept. 19.

On Sept. 11, the Supreme Court issued an “order that effectively locked nearly all Central American migrants out of the asylum process. The Court’s order is temporary, and it only allows the asylum ban to remain in effect while the case is working its way through the courts. It stays a lower court decision that blocked the ban. Though this litigation will continue to percolate in lower courts, other judges are likely to read the Supreme Court’s order as a sign that a majority of the justices will ultimately uphold the ban.” (from “Justice Sotomayor warns the Supreme Court is doing ‘extraordinary” favors for Trump'”, Ian Millhiser, Vox, Sept. 12.)

Don’t forget about DACA! “Without action, more DACA recipients than ever before could see their DACA protection expire in October,” Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, Center for American Progress, August 15.

“For one Latino family, a routine traffic stop by a PA trooper turned into a 2-hour interrogation over their immigration status”, Jeff Gammage, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 27. Maria Marquez’ partner and son were taken to York County Prison and placed into deportation proceedings because “they did not have papers.”

Thank you for joining us!

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