News for Amigos de Casa San José: April 2021

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

Time to Shine:  Announcing this year’s Fiesta del Sol!!

Please register now and show your love for Casa and our community.
For more information, call 412-974-2758 or email srkaren@casasanjose.org.

How to take action:

The Driving PA Forward coalition, of which we are members, has kicked off its grassroots fundraising campaign with a goal to raise $25K by April 30! With 40 co-sponsors already secured in the PA House, Driving PA Forward is currently engaged in 40 days of action to pressure legislators to pass House bill 279. 

  • Driver’s licenses for all residents would mean economic security and protection from detention & deportation for thousands of immigrants who are currently legally denied the human right to mobility in PA.  This legislation will also make for safer roads, lower-cost insurance, and data privacy for all PA drivers.  Please donate here. 

How you can help:

¡Las luchas obreras no tienen fronteras!  Show your solidarity and join us at this virtual celebration of International Workers’ Day this May 1st at 3 p.m. streaming on Facebook. There will be great music from the band Émina from Puerto Rico and local favorite, Timbeleza.  Hear updates on efforts to improve the lives of undocumented workers in PA and across the country and the fight for workers’ rights in Puerto Rico. More information here. 

News on what we’re doing:

Casa’s main focus lately has been bringing vaccinations to our community.  So far, we have put shots in the arms of over 2000 grateful people.  Several more vaccination clinics that we will set up in Pittsburgh in the next few weeks will serve 400 more. We are also expanding this effort outside Allegheny County, and will soon have a clinic in New Castle, PA, where over 200 have signed up. We are able to do this because of our excellent partners, the Central Outreach Wellness Center, the Hugh Lane Wellness FoundationUPMCAHN, and PHDC, who are key allies in fighting COVID in the Latino community.  We extend our sincere thanks to them.

In all our vaccination efforts, we try to establish an atmosphere of trust and comfort, with educational Spanish-language communication in person and on social media.   We are making sign-up easy with an online form in Spanish and Portuguese on our Facebook and Instagram pages, or a quick call to our phone line.  Read more about our efforts to fight against COVID-19 here.

Billy, our community organizer, is registering voters wherever our in-person clinics take place.

The Eyes on ICE: Truth and Accountability Forums took place throughout the country in April to document the truth of immigration enforcement practices and spotlight the stories of those who have been impacted by ICE.  For the Pennsylvania forum, Casa worked with organizations Juntos and Mijente to provide testimony from our Pittsburgh community.  The results will be submitted to inform the Biden administration, and lay the groundwork for dismantling the current deportation and detention systems. You can witness our forum here.

Casa has been assisting Holy Family, an esteemed and established child care agency located in Emsworth, which is a designated intake site for the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.  They have had a large influx of children from the border recently.  We’ve sent 14 of our staff and volunteers to get trained, and they will do things like help with laundry, prepare meals, sort clothing and toys and, for those with clearances, interact with the children.  

On April 8, Casa co-sponsored a virtual Mayoral candidate forum with Pittsburgh United and other partners.
Our youth have been learning how to play the ukulele! Their teachers are Shane McLaughlin and Kelsey Robinson. Casa San Jose bought the ukuleles and delivered them to our kids. 

Our virtual ESL classes, in coordination with Duquesne University, had 27 proud graduates this month, and we plan to start again in September – hopefully in person!  One of our students, Delmis, said “More than anything, I want to learn English.”  Listen to her whole conversation here.

The work of Casa San José during the COVID-19 pandemic has been featured in the virtual photo exhibit called “One Lens: Sharing Our Common Views” organized by the Pennsylvania Office of the First Lady.  Look at the full exhibit here.

Casa’s executive director, Monica Ruiz, was selected to be honored as one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s Women in Business !  

Our story, continued:

This is a story about babies born with complications – not physical ones, but record-keeping ones, which have serious consequences.  For an immigrant mother who speaks no English and gives birth in Pittsburgh area hospitals, the process of registering the birth is extremely complicated. There are multiple forms for many different circumstances. To take the information, most hospitals send a staff person who doesn’t speak the patient’s language or understand their culture.  So, errors are common: the baby’s first name is misspelled or left out, last names are misunderstood (there are often two of them in Latin America), fathers are left off the form.  Our social workers have often received calls from distraught mothers who, when they finally get the birth certificate in the mail, discover that this literally vital record is wrong.
The consequences can be severe. The babies are US citizens at birth, but without a correct birth certificate can’t be registered for benefits, like SNAP or CHIP, which are often sorely needed, or get a passport. The child is here without a name or an ID, a precarious situation, and if the family is deported, they will have immense difficulty getting documents from the US.  Getting it corrected, as our social workers try to do, takes months, with money orders and visits to notaries required. Contacting Vital Records is done by phone, with hours on hold and only in English.  All that time the child is in limbo.
Recently, Casa has begun a system where our social workers go over the forms with the Moms before the baby is born, translating and explaining the questions, and recording the answers.  They make 2 copies of these answers – one for her to keep and the other to give to the social worker at the hospital.  It will go in a box with a new nightgown, new baby clothes, diapers and documents with needed information and telephone numbers, to take to the hospital when the time is right.  But they are also tirelessly advocating for hospitals to hire staff who can translate for and understand our families at this crucial time.

Learn more:

“A predictable time at the border,” (audio) On the Media, March 26.  “explains that seasonality is a key factor in understanding when — and why — we see more people coming to the border. It’s a predictable uptick, and yet our policies for more than two decades have failed to anticipate it.”

Beyond the enforcement paradigm: a vision for a transformative budget for US immigration“, Defund Hate Coalition, 2021.

Thank you for joining us!

Leave a Reply