News for amigos de Casa san José: Feb. 26, 2020

Dear amigos de casa San José,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How you can take action:

On March 11th at 7pm, the Shut Down Berks campaign will host a webinar for those interested in getting involved – you can get info. and register here.  They recently took a strong new step in advocating for the closure of the detention facility by taking legal action against Pennsylvania’s state administration.

how you can help:

We are in need of the following.  

Did you know that whenever you purchase through Amazon, they will donate 0.5% of the amount to Casa San Jose? You can sign up through smile.amazon.com, selecting Casa San Jose as your charity.  For more information call Sister Karen Stoila at 412-343-3111.

FIESTA DEL SOL is happening!  To volunteer or for more info, email srkaren@casasanjose.org

news on what we’re doing (so much!)

On Saturday many of our wonderful volunteers went out to talk to our Beechview neighbors about the importance of the 2020 Census, and to offer future support in filling it out. The Latinx community especially has been undercounted in the census, which limits its government funding and political representation, so we are trying to change this.  Mil gracias to everyone who helped!!

And in another effort to spread the word about the Census, our interns Giselle and Katherine talked to our Jovenes con Propósito program about the importance of the 2020 Census, so they can make sure their families and neighbors participate also.

We got free tickets for Ice Skating, the kids had so much fun. For some of them this was their very first time ice skating. Big thanks to “Tickets for Kids” for providing the tickets!!

In January we started Casita for Spanish-speaking students at Brashear High School, expanding our after-school program, Jóvenes con Próposito. Many kids are here without parents, going to school in the daytime and working at night, and in need of many services. Now they won’t have to leave school to find ESL, homework help, referrals for housing, medical and legal needs, emergency funding, Know Your Rights sessions, and help with documentation.  Big thanks to Brashear for facilitating this program!

On Jan. 25, a group of our youth, accompanied by José and Veronica, participated in the annual Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit, where they presented their ideas in the workshop “Deconstructing Racism across Borders – The Immigrant Youth Perspective.”

We held a third training for new members of our Rapid Response Team, volunteers who can respond quickly to urgent needs in the immigrant community: transportation, emotional support, interpretation, ICE or court accompaniments, housing, etc. If you would also like to join, email srvalerie@casasanjose.org.

Our latest community meeting featured a Know Your Rights session specifically for domestic workers, hotel workers, nannies and cleaners, presented by our partner Justice At Work.

Some of the youth from our Jovenes con Proposito program started a new class on glass blowing at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. A big thanks to Jaime Guerrero and the Glass Center for providing this great opportunity! This is the second group of Latinx youth from Casa San Jose participating in this class.

At the Pittsburgh for Public Transit rally on Feb. 4, Veronica spoke about high transportation costs for immigrant and refugee communities, who rely heavily on public transit, but don’t have easy access to ConnectCards.

We had 17 clients come to our latest free legal clinic.

On February 18th, Casa San Jose joined Doctors for Camp Closure and the University of Pittsburgh immigration legal clinic in a meeting with Representative Mike Doyle of PA’s 18th district. We spoke about the conditions that undocumented community members face when they are detained. 

Monica was selected to be one of the Mentors, “the most influential women in the community,” at the Pittsburgh Business Times’ Mentoring Monday event on Feb. 24. Also, on Feb. 9, Veronica and Laura gave talks on the topic: “How could migrant justice be achieved through a Green New Deal?” at the Green New Deal Discussion downtown.

Our story, continued:

In mid-January, our emergency response line got a call from one of our clients, saying that her husband Juan (not his real name) had called her from his car to say that he was being stopped by the police, on his way back from taking their child to school.  But after that the contact went dead.  What happened? Where was he?  Laura (Casa’s Emergency Response Organizer) went to work calling police departments, discovering hours later he was in the custody of ICE, who often are thought to be the police because they hide their identification.  Along with Juan’s immigration attorney, they negotiated with ICE agents to hand the keys to Juan’s vehicle over to his wife so that it would not be towed. 
It was more than a month later when his wife was finally able to see Juan, and that was only as a blurry image on a TV screen; he wasn’t able to see her.  After driving 5 hours to York, where the bond hearing was held, Laura and Juan’s wife sat behind a glass wall, along with 3 supporters from an immigrant justice organization in York.  They watched as the judge and Dept. of Homeland Security prosecutor questioned Juan, who was in a closet in front of a camera 100 miles away in Cambria, and his attorney, calling in from Pittsburgh. The hearing took 20 minutes, but it had a fortunate outcome: the lowest bond amount Laura had ever seen, $5000.  She was later told that the judge took into account the presence of those sitting anxiously behind that glass wall.  With $4000 provided for by Casa’s Fondo Solidario bond fund, it was not too difficult for the family to raise the rest.  Juan’s wife and Laura drove the 5 hours back to Pittsburgh, with tears but also relief, and then, with the bond paid, his wife was able to bring him home the next day.  Juan now awaits his next court hearing.

learn more:

“New program at Brashear High School is aiming to help Latino youth thrive”, Ollie Gratzinger, Pittsburgh CityPaper, Feb. 3 2020. Casa San José’s program is featured.

“The real impact of Trump’s “public charge” immigration rule,” Stef Kight, Axios, Feb. 23, 2020. This is the rule that many of you wrote in to comment in protest on a few months ago.  It was put into effect on Monday after a 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court to allow it. “As many as 400,000 people every year could be denied green cards or visas because of the new rules.” 

“Border Patrol Will Deploy Elite Tactical Agents to Sanctuary Cities:  Agents from a special tactical team that normally confronts smugglers on the border are being sent to sanctuary cities across the country”  Caitlin Dickerson and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, New York Times, Feb. 14, 2020.

Deported to Danger:  United States Deportation Policies Expose Salvadorans to Death and Abuse”, Human Rights Watch Report, Feb. 5, 2020.

Trust and Consequences:  The government required him to see a therapist. He thought his words would be confidential. Now, the traumatized migrant may be deported”, Hannah Dreier, Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2020. The Trump administration is requiring that confidential notes taken during mandatory therapy sessions with immigrant children be passed onto ICE, which can then use those reports against minors in court.

“How the Trump administration uses the “hidden weapons”of immigration law,” Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, Feb.13, 2020.

Recent polling on immigration in battleground states, and suggested messaging to rebut attacks from the Immigration Hub, a national pro-immigration advocacy group.

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