News for Amigos de Casa San Jose: March, 2022

Join us for Fiesta del Sol, Friday, June 17, 2022, at the Circuit Center and Ballroom on the South Side. We look forward to celebrating the summer solstice with you in person for the first time since 2019!  Enjoy Latin food, a basket raffle, dancing, and music by the Diamante Trío and Lilly Abreu. Proceeds benefit the work of Casa San Jose. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, click here!
You can help make our Fiesta del Sol a success by donating items for our Fiesta del Sol basket raffle, particularly gift cards, lottery tickets, restaurant gift certificates, and tickets to Pittsburgh sports and cultural events. Or create a basket of your own! All donations must be in the Casa San Jose office by May 2. For more information, contact Sister Karen Stoila at srkaren@casasanjose.org
Inside an Immigration Detention Facility
Below is a first-person account by “Laura,”who was detained in an Arizona incarceration facility for 14 days after crossing the southern border. Laura was a resident of our free transitional housing for asylum seekers “Casa San José Obrero”. Through sharing her story, we aim to honor many strong women like Laura who face difficult challenges such as detention, family separation and deportation, but preserve and continue to fight to provide for their families and ensure a better future for their children. 

“I came to the U.S. with my husband and two sons, ages 19 and 25. Since we were all of legal age, we were separated during our time in detention. Every day, we were given only 30 minutes to leave our cells to shower, talk on the phone and interact with other detainees. Of the ten guards in my part of the jail, only one spoke Spanish. There was a library, but all of the books were in English. Every night, the lamp in my cell was left on and guards passed by several times to check on us. We didn’t know if it was day or night. The experience of being locked up gave me anxiety — one can go crazy.  We are honest people. The laws are wrong. They should not criminalize people for just wanting to enter the country and trying to get ahead.”
– Laura, 46 years old, Colombia

To support family reunification, consider donating to our Fondo Solidario (or Bond Fund). This fund provides interest-free loans to help release community members from immigration detention centers and reunite them with their families so that they can fight their case from home. Donate here. 
Latino Community Meetings
Casa San Jose began a new community group for the Latino community to discuss issues such as healthcare, housing, and legal resources. Meetings will be held monthly after the Spanish Mass at Saint Catherine of Sienna Church in Beechview. For more information, contact Billy Reeves at billy@casasanjose.org
¡ Hola Andy Warhol!
Casa San Jose’s Bridges to the Future youth program got creative with the help of the Andy Warhol Museum. Our youth made colorful collages with scraps of paper and cut-out pictures as an example of open-ended art and a form of self-expression. They also visited the museum where they created screen prints and toured the site to learn more about Andy Warhol and his art.
ESL with Duquesne University
More than 20 students are participating in intermediate-level ESL virtual classes presented by Duquesne University, in partnership with Casa San Jose. Eva Kowalewski, who teaches the class, said students expressed a desire to improve their pronunciation and grammar skills for everyday conversations, adding:

 “Many of the students want to learn how to ask basic questions correctly so that they can feel more confident communicating with their children’s teachers.”
Peter Spencer was a young, Black immigrant from Jamaica who was gunned down and murdered in Venango County on Dec 11, 2021. No charges were filed for his killers. We are asking community members to consider the following actions of peaceful advocacy:

1. Take a picture holding an 8.5” X 11″ white sheet of paper that reads #Justice4PeterSpencer” with a fist raised in solidarity, and post on social media.
2. Write a letter to the Honorable Cindy Chung asking her to take over the investigation of this case. A sample letter is here. Letters should be sent to The Honorable Cindy K. Chung, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, 700 Grant Street, Suite 4000, Pittsburgh, PA  15219.

Read Casa San Jose’s press release in support of the family of Peter Spencer here.
In solidarity with all detained immigrants, we are asking our community members to sign a petition to release Mamadee from immigration custody and allow him to fight his case from his home in Philadelphia alongside his family. Signatures are due by April 1. Learn more here.
  • We’re Hiring! ISAC Services Coordinator: The role of the ISAC Service Coordinator is to identify at-risk clients for care management outreach, to link families to resources, and to assess and address the needs of Latinx community members in Allegheny County.  Learn more here.
  • HB 279 Lobby Day: Countless immigrants are unable to apply for a driver’s license in Pennsylvania because they do not have a social security number. Casa San Jose is hosting a lobby day on April 26 in Harrisburg in support of HB 279 which addresses this issue. Transportation will be arranged. For more information on how to participate, contact Billy Reeves at billy@casasanjose.com.
  • Immigration Tour: Casa San Jose, Vote Common Good (VCG), and Social Justice Seekers sponsored an immigration event at St. Thomas More Family Life Center on Saturday, March 19. The event was the first of a six-state bus tour by VCG to highlight how immigration and border practices are faith issues as well as social justice issues. More information about the immigration tour can be found here.
  • A Vigil for Detained Immigrants: Casa San Jose co-sponsored a vigil in support of detained immigrants on International Women’s Day on March 8, along with the Shut Down Berks Coalition, the Welcoming Immigrants Housing Project, and Grandview Church of God. Watch the vigil here.
  • U.S. Senate Candidate Forum: Casa San Jose, in partnership with The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, PUMP, and the Women and Girls Foundation, hosted a U.S. Senate Candidate Forum on March 19 at the University of Pittsburgh.  Casa’s Executive Director, Monica Ruiz, served as a moderator. Senate candidates from Pennsylvania discussed a range of issues relating to foreign policy including the war in Ukraine, immigration, climate policy and human rights. Watch the recording here.

COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids 5 to 11

The free COVID-19 vaccine is FDA-authorized and CDC-recommended for kids 5 to 11. It’s as safe as other childhood vaccines.  Call your pediatrician if you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccines are the best way to protect your child from the worst effects of COVID-19. Give your child the power to learn, play, and be a kid. 

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