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News for Amigos de Casa San José: April 13, 2020

Dear Amigos de Casa San José,
Welcome back to our email newsletter!  We wish you all health, safety, and care, and thank you once again for joining us.

Donate to our Bond Fund:
We are trying to get as many people out of detention as possible. Since COVID-19 hit Pennsylvania, we have already gotten two people out and have three on deck. (A recipient, his family, and Laura are pictured below.) We need your help now more than ever. Here’s where you can give – select “Fondo Solidario” in Reason for Donation.

How you can help:

CENSUS Phone-banking Volunteers Needed on Thursday, April 23rd, 10am-12pm (no Spanish needed). We want our historically undercounted community to be included in the Census – it’s vital. You would do it from home, with a script. Easy! If you can help, please fill out this form – we will follow up right away with instructions. Questions? Email interns@casasanjose.org.  Thank you!!

Donate a new or used laptop to our kids: 
The Pittsburgh Public Schools will begin online instruction on April 16.  Most of our families don’t even have one laptop, while one per child is recommended.  The schools will be providing some, but Superintendent Hamlet has said they will not nearly have enough for everyone.
Any brand is fine.  Used laptops should not be more than 2 years old. They need to be in working order, able to access the internet, and have a charger and battery. 
We can pick them up and deliver them to the families.  We will also be recruiting volunteers to help the families get them running and connected to internet.
If you can help with this effort, please contact jose@casasanjose.org.

This will be fun!
Stay tuned to our Facebook page for the Virtual Dance Party with Dj Selecta next Saturday, April 18.

News on what we’re doing as a response to COVID-19:

This pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on our communities. Thousands of immigrants have lost their jobs, are in desperate conditions, and a great many are not eligible for relief benefits designated by the government. 

  • Direct personal assistance: To comply with CDC guidelines and to ensure the safety of staff and clients, we are responding to individual needs – difficulty getting food, medical attention, legal aid, water, schooling, shelter, transportation, DACA renewals, etc. – via telephone. Since March 13th, more than 200 people have been helped after calling our dedicated phone lines. 
  • Emergency response: We continue responding to immigration emergencies through our Rapid Response Line (412) 736-7167. Since March 13th, we have assisted 60 people and, thanks to our Bond Fund, helped release 2 from ICE detention. Several others are waiting.
  • Food distribution: In just three weeks we have provided food to more than 1000 people in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. In close coordination with generous organizations such as 412 Food Rescue, Food Pantries, Food Banks, restaurants, religious organizations and donors, and many wonderful volunteers, including community members, we have delivered a LOT of non-perishable food and fresh produce. Our heroic Community Organizer Veronica Lozada is in charge.  Additionally, thanks to the outstanding support from Dr. Mark Baratz, we are not only feeding our community but also purchasing meals from local restaurants, which helps keep businesses open and people employed.
  • Follow-up to individual cases: Since the beginning of our remote operation, we have assisted more than 80 families through individual intervention and monitoring of their special cases. With this individual attention, we help families connect with services that meet their needs in relation to housing, food assistance, access to health and other critical resources.
  • Information in Spanish about Covid-19: To fill the gap of accurate COVID-19 information in Spanish, we are sharing information from Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and service organizations at the state and national levels through our website and multiple social media platforms. Our content on Facebook has organically reached more than 20,200 people in March alone.  We are distributing and posting hundreds of flyers, and sending them out with food packets.  Critical information is also being disseminated through WhatsApp groups.
  • Advocacy for the release of detainees: Casa San Jose is advocating for the release of detainees at the Allegheny County Jail and immigration detention centers. This work is in close coordination with MILPA, Abolitionist Law Center, PA Prison Society, ACLU of Pennsylvania and National Lawyers Guild.
  • Advocacy for the closure of the Berks Family Detention Center: We are actively advocating for the closure of the Berks Detention Center. Prisons and detention centers are crowded, lack proper sanitation, and are a potential focus of infection of COVID-19.  Immigrant families have the right to be safe and healthy in their homes.
We are still getting our community members to participate in the Census!

April 1st was Census Day! From the safety of our homes, Casa San Jose texted over 2000 of historically undercounted people reminding them to fill out the Census and providing them with the necessary resources. We were proud to see that in response to the question “Have you filled out the Census yet?”, our highest affirmative response rate was from our Casa San Jose community members! Todos Contamos!   

Learn more:

Our partner PICC hosts an Educational Webinar Series, starting this week.  Use your quarantine time to learn from skilled organizers about immigration issues in PA, immigrant-led advocacy, and how to take action! Details below:

  • Tuesday, April 14th, 5pm-7pm (TOMORROW!) – Immigration Basics (English)  Register here.
  • Thursday, April 16th, 5pm-7pm – Immigration Basics (Spanish)  Register here. 
  • Wednesday, April 15, 3:00-5:00 pm – Welcoming Schools Training  Register here
  • Friday, April 24th, 12pm-1pm – Criminalization and Immigration  Register here

Interview with our director!  “At Home With: Monica Ruiz:  CP’s daily check-in with Pittsburghers during the coronavirus pandemic, Alex Gordon, Pittsburgh CityPaper, April 2.

“Facing coronavirus pandemic, Trump suspends immigration laws and showcases vision for locked-down border”, Arelis Mirandez and Nick Miroff, Washington Post, April 3. “the president has shelved safeguards intended to protect trafficking victims and persecuted groups, implementing an expulsion order that sends migrants of all ages back to Mexico in an average of 96 minutes.”

“Dreamers on the frontlines of the coronavirus health crisis work in limbo:  Healthcare workers under the protection of DACA anxiously await a Supreme Court decision that may deport them“, Alexandra Villareal, The Guardian, April 5.  An estimated 29,000 are in healthcare occupations, and many more in essential services such as food, sanitation, first responders, public safety, etc. “Once US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gets the go-ahead from the court, it intends to start deporting Dreamers.”  A decision is expected any day.

“Farmworkers, Mostly Undocumented, Become ‘Essential’ During Pandemic: Immigrant field workers have been told to keep working despite stay-at-home directives, and given letters attesting to their “critical” role in feeding the country.”, Miriam Jordan, New York Times, April 2.

“‘It’s a time bomb’: ICE detainees seek release amid growing coronavirus fears”, Marisa Lang, Washington Post, April 8. “With every day that passes, immigrants inside U.S. detention centers grow more desperate…ICE detains nearly 38,000 people in more than 130 private and state-run facilities across the country.”

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