News for Amigos de Casa San José: March 26, 2020

Dear Amigos de Casa San José,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!  We cannot be more grateful for the expressions of concern and offers of help that have been coming to us from individuals and organizations.  We profoundly wish that everyone stay strong in body, mind, and heart in this crisis

What is Casa San Jose doing to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak:  

Casa San Jose is operating, for safety reasons, through other means than in person, until further notice.  Our programming has sadly been put on hold.  However,

  • We are working to provide immediate information and support in Spanish to our community members through every means possible – our website, telephone, email, text, FacebookInstagramTwitter, WhatsApp:
    • Answers to frequently asked questions, i.e. what should I do if I have coronavirus symptoms? 
    • How to find resources – free internet, foodbanks, healthcare, schoolwork at home, utility forgiveness, rent assistance, subsistence funding, psychological support, etc.
    • Bulletins from Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Mayor’s and Governor’s Office, World Health Organization, CDC, etc.
  • We are distributing food and other supplies from our Beechview office and through delivery, with the generous help of allies and donors.
  • Our Emergency Response line is still in service, helping those who are detained and their families with access to legal help, subsistence support, bond assistance, transportation, translation.
  • Our staff, answering calls, email, texts and working from home, is meeting online every few days to coordinate care and services. 
  • We are following up one-on-one with our clients to ensure their needs are met. 
  • LINK to our COVID-19 pages here:  For our community (in Spanish) and What we are doing (in English).

We are grateful to the Heinz Foundation for granting us funding to hire an Intensive Case Manager, Elia Maria Paris.  Welcome, Elia!

Prayer from Sister Janice:
Now more than ever we need to rely on
faith, family and community
We need to draw out from ourselves
peace, confidence, and trust
We will depend on the higher angels
who will lead us to share and not hoard, to encourage and not discourage, and be tranquil and not panic
For all of these graces and especially for each other, we are grateful.

how you can help:

  • Donate on our website.
  • Donate non-perishable food, cleaning/sanitizing products, gift cards to grocery stores or pharmacies, paper goods, and diapers at our office. (Call 412-343-3111 or email office@casasanjose.org for hours of attendance.) 
  • Follow Casa San Jose’s social media – and share! – our up to date information about the outbreak, our work and the needs of our community.  FacebookTwitterInstagram.

How to take action:

Especially now, as COVID-19 spreads, we must continue insisting that Governor Wolf immediately Issue an Emergency Removal Order to shut down Berks County Detention Center. Please email him here. or call
Governor Tom Wolf 717-787-2500 Lt. Gov. Fetterman 717-787-3300 PA DHS Secretary Miller 717-787-2600
The families imprisoned there, with children as young as 2 years old, are dangerously vulnerable to the virus, and without proper medical care or sanitation.  Family detention is not only immoral, it’s illegal.

Casa also supports the Abolitionist Law Center’s drive to protect public health by releasing non-violent prisoners.

Don’t forget to apply for your mail-in ballot before April 21 – PA now offers them.  The primary is April 28 and even by November it may not be as easy to go to the polls.  Your vote is more important than ever.

News on what we were doing previously:

We started our new After School program at Casa San Jose. Responding to the need of a space for Latinx kids to find academic support and fun activities after school, Casa is providing this service for families in collaboration with Beechwood Elementary School.  We are currently serving 11 kids from Kindergarten to 5th grade. The program runs Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m.  A big shout out to the volunteers that are helping us with the program. This couldn’t be possible without your support.

The Glass Blowing class at Pittsburgh Glass Center continued! The youth are very excited to be learning new skills that open up the horizon for career paths. So far they have learned the basic of glassblowing and they did their first cups!  

A part of our new program at Brashear HS, Casita, we took 16 youth to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Cathedral of Learning at University of Pittsburgh.  For many, this was the first time visiting these two landmarks. 

At the Pittsburgh for Public Transit rally, our Community Organizer Veronica spoke about the transportation needs of immigrant and refugee communities, who rely heavily on public transit, but don’t have easy access to ConnectCards.

our story, continued:

Anna’s client Clara (not her real name) has a niece, a child, who answered the phone one day, and could only understand the following:  that it was her Grandpa, Clara’s Dad, and that he was in jail. Clara had known he had been wandering in the desert for 3 days, without food or water.  Now she learned he was in ICE custody. But how could she track this down and find him?  The only clue was the telephone number, recorded on the phone.  Sister Janice, known in our office for her sleuthing skills, took this on and located the call as coming from a Customs and Border Enforcement station at a bridge on the border.  Anna called them to ask whether they could locate Clara’s Dad, but was only able to leave a phone message.  Miraculously, a connection was made, and Clara found her father, only to learn that he had been deported to Honduras. He had a strong case to due human rights violations and death threats he was receiving from the gangs. But when Clara finally spoke to him, she learned that while in detention he had not been given an interview and was told to sign some papers in English, which ultimately turned out to be his deportation orders. He is now back in Honduras, in hiding, waiting to decide his next move. Anna says, “I can only imagine his situation now that the virus has taken over everything.”

learn more:

All in one place:  Migratory Notes 155:  Raids and coronavirus, tracking travel bans, detention epidemics – a summary of latest news of how the coronavirus is impacting immigrant communities.  Migratory Notes is an email newsletter, excellent for keeping up to date on national immigration news and policies: subscribe to it here.

“Close immigration prisons now: The coronavirus’s quick transmission and deadly track record is likely to worsen inside these institutions”, César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández and Carlos Moctezuma García, New York Times, March 19.

Casa in the news!  “Pittsburgh Latino service group hoping to ensure everyone is counted for the 2020 Census.” Ryan Deto, Feb. 27, Pittsburgh City Paper.

 “Philadelphia Bar Association Statement on ICE Arrests within Courthouses.” They’re happening in Pittsburgh too and are a violation of due process, an internationally-recognized human right. “Justice Dept. establishes office to denaturalize immigrants”, Katie Benner, New York Times, Feb. 26.  Promotes the idea that new citizens have fewer rights than those born in the United States, and that immigrants should not assume that they cannot be deported even if they have become citizens.

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