News for Amigos de Casa San José: August 7, 2020

Dear Amigos de Casa San José,
Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

Casa is supporting Driving PA Forward , a vitally important campaign to allow undocumented immigrants in PA to obtain driver’s licensesAmple evidence shows that denying them authorization to drive is unrealistic, harms public safety and makes our communities less secure. It is next to impossible in most communities to work, shop, get healthcare, take care of kids, etc. without driving. 17 states have passed laws to allow this. Please get involved by signing and ask family and friends to sign the Individual Pledge Form.
Ask other organizations to endorse the Campaign!  Send them our Institutional Endorsement Form

How you can help:

WE continue to fight to #ShutDownBerks County family detention center, where children as young as two-weeks-old have been incarcerated. Our partner the PA Immigration & Citizenship Coalition (PICC) provides a handy Six Ways to Take Action to Shut Down Berks.

How you can help:
From Laura Perkins, Casa’s Emergency Response Organizer:
The courts are opening once again and we are in need of Spanish-speaking volunteers to help us with court accompaniments. 
Each court sets its own COVID19 guidelines, but all of them only let in a limited number of people.  The accompaniments would be mostly logistical (make sure they go to the right place, sign in, help them fill out forms, see that they have interpretation, etc.) and emotional (“we know this is hard and we are here with you”). 
When a volunteer confirms an accompaniment, I’ll communicate the time, date, and location of hearing, plus any pertinent information like if a lawyer and interpreter will be present. I will then put the community member and the volunteer in contact so that they can coordinate arrival between themselves. 
Because of COVID-19 we are not offering to give people rides. The volunteer would meet the community member outside the court entrance.  Usually Laura is able to give a day to a week’s notice of an accompaniment need.  
If you have volunteered with us in the past, you can email Laura@casasanjose.org. If this is your first time volunteering with us, please first fill out our volunteer form.

News on what we’re doing:

Campamento Sonrisa, Casa’s virtual camp for more than 50 Latino boys and girls between 7 and 13, has finished its first cycle we are in the midst of our second.  Thanks to the generous donations that we received on Giving Tuesday, we were able to provide these families with laptops and access to the Internet. We bring them the materials needed for the activities and gift cards from Aldi for lunch and snacks.  A big thank you to all the organizations and individuals that are partnering with us to help our kids continue learning and maintaining social and emotional connections during this time.

We are continuing our cash and food distributions every week to hundreds of families.  The cash financial assistance consists of $700 payments to immigrant families who are struggling from the pandemic’s impact, and aren’t eligible for the US Government stimulus – so far, thanks to generous donors and the Open Society Foundation, we have helped 602 families! 
Veronica continues to organize food distributions twice a week.  See the photo below for the beautiful vegetables and fruits donated by Monteverde’s Produce.

Tardes con Casa, a Facebook Live event in Spanish, last Tuesday featured Diana and Jose, our youth coordinators, talking about Casa’s programs and plans for young people.  And of course our Emcee Extraordinaria, Veronica.  Now that we have finished presenting CSJ staff, Veronica will meet with specialists who will speak to us about topics of interest to our community.
You can watch it below, and tune in on Tuesdays on our Facebook page!

We are so happy to welcome our three wonderful new staff members!  (See our Staff Page for their biographies.)

  • Andrea Padilla is our newly appointed Communications Specialist.
  • Monique Herrera is our new Immigrant Services and Connections (ISAC) Bilingual Navigator
  • Milena Narkevic is our first Coordinator for Latino Outreach in Ambridge (see below)

Also, our Ambridge office in Beaver County has begun its operations and will be coordinated by Milena Narkevic. Thanks to the Good Samaritan Church for offering us a space to continue serving the members of our community!

We held a DACA legal clinic on July 30, advising local DACA current and potential recipients of the newly threatening situation and how to proceed. See the ILRC (Immigrant Legal Resource Center) brief on this outrageous outcome, where the Supreme Court and a Maryland federal court ruled to reinstate DACA, and the Trump administration is defying those orders.  Laura Perkins gave a presentation, followed by personal consultations with volunteer immigration attorneys. DACA youth have had their futures crushed once again, although there may be hope in future legal challenges.

On the positive side, we celebrated six months since Dr. Diego Chaves-Gnecco’s mobile clinic started coming to Casa San José  and 18 years of Salud Para Niños – Clínica pediátrica bilingüe making a difference in our community.

Our story, continued:

Benjamin Gutschow, Casa’s Community Organizer for Social and Civic Engagement, is organizing its newest youth program, F.L.Y. Pittsburgh. It began this month, and he describes it below.  Meet the new members here!

Last weekend Casa San Jose kicked off its newest program with a youth-leadership retreat. Titled F.L.Y. Pittsburgh, the program stands for the Future of Latino Youth in Pittsburgh and is aimed at making society a more inclusive place. Designed and led by local High School students, this program is unique and something that the world desperately needs. Even a small team of eight can inspire a lot of societal change. 

Lasting two days and one night, the leadership retreat took place at the North Campus of the Winchester Thurston School–a large area where social-distancing guidelines were easy to maintain. Here, they learned things like the Cycle of Oppression, and shared the common misconceptions and microaggressions that Latino’s regularly receive. Taking with them valuable lessons on identity and activism, we are excited to see what the future holds.
I explained how Latino youth in Pittsburgh are often ignored and treated like second class citizens, taking away their confidence, power, and voice from within. But when they are provided with the necessary tools and techniques, there is no limit to how much positive change can truly be achieved.  

One of the most powerful activities was the “Wall”, where members used some of their stories and experiences shared in a fishbowl activity. They used these stories and experiences and wrote them down with the common misconceptions and microaggressions they’ve received as Latinos and used it to understand why they joined FLY Pittsburgh in the first place. 

Moving forward, F.L.Y. Pittsburgh will continue its momentum through various projects around the city and state, with weekly zoom meetings to discuss, design, and develop a better future for Latino youth in Pittsburgh.  For more, see our website page.

Learn more:

On Sunday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m, tune into “Voting in Troubled Times: The Moral Imperative,” a panel discussion by clergy across faiths:

  • Rabbi David Evan Markus, Temple Beth-El of City Island, NY
  • Reverend Liddy Barlow, Southwestern Pennsylvania Christian Associates
  • Imam Chris Caras, Islamic Center of Pittsburgh
  • Reverend Richard Freeman, Resurrection Baptist Church

Casa San José is co-hosting this with Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. The panel will discuss why our traditions point us to being more involved in voting and the electoral process.  Click here to register and for more information.

“New census memorandum ‘discriminates and disenfranchises’ says Casa San Jose Executive Director”, Kevin Gavin, WESA, July 27.  An interview with Monica.

“Trump administration refuses to accept new DACA applicants despite court ruling”, Joel Rose, NPR, July 28.  

“Judge Issues Two Nationwide Injunctions Blocking “Public Charge” Immigration Rules Amid COVID-19 Pandemic”, National Immigration Law Center, July 29. “New injunctions will allow immigrant communities across the U.S. to safely access critical health care and public assistance during health crisis.”

“Migrant kids held in US hotels, then expelled”, Nomaan Merchant, AP, July 21.”The Trump administration is detaining immigrant children as young as 1 in hotels, sometimes for weeks, before deporting them to their home.”

“ICE unlawfully jails unaccompanied minor migrant children once they turn 18, judge rules.” Spencer Hsu, Washington Post, July 2.

Thank you for joining us, and stay safe and strong!

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