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News for Amigos de Casa San José: Aug. 16, 2018

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

Help:

Don’t forget to come to our lunch sale for immigrant justice every Friday afternoon 11 am – 2 pm at 5120 Penn Ave.  Tomorrow, Friday the 17th:  Pozole, Empanadas & Chilaquiles! Also artwork by our youth.  All proceeds go to sending immigrant families, youth, DACA folks & allies down to Arizona to protest the border wall and to reunite a special Pittsburgh family in AZ.

Get out your running/walking shoes, because the 4.12K for Casa San José is back!  412 Resistance is hosting the 2nd Annual 4.12K run/walk with all proceeds going to Casa San Jose. The date is Sunday, Oct. 7 at 9 am.  Register and get more info. here.

¡Que Viva Clemente! is happening soon also!  Save the date:  Oct. 13, 7-10 pm, at Brookline Teen Outreach Center, 520 Brookline Blvd., in Brookline. Join our partner Pittsburgh LCLAA in celebrating Hispanic Heritage month in an annual salute to the great Roberto Clemente. Enjoy authentic Puerto Rican cuisine and live Flamenco music and dance. Net proceeds from this event will go to a legal defense fund for Latino immigrant families. Here is information about sponsorships, and here is where to buy tickets.

Action:

One of our partners, the New Sanctuary Movement Pittsburgh is having a planning event on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6:30 – 9:30 at the Sixth Presbyterian Church, corner of Forbes and Murray.  Please “come and be part of this collaborative process! Bring your conviction, your compassion, and your creativity as we come together to support our neighbors.”

News:

Tuesday was Casa’s 5th Birthday!  To celebrate we are releasing the documentary made about us last year, called “CASA”. This movie was created by Nick Schapiro, a wonderful filmmaker from Pittsburgh who works in California and spent lots of time with our staff and community capturing the work we do. It’s a moving and beautiful film.  Here it is:  hope you enjoy it!

From Jeimy:  A huge Thank You 🙏 to Tickets for Kids Charities for providing our youth floor seats at the Taylor Swift concert last week. They had a night to remember!❤️  Maybe less exciting but definitely healthier was a visit they also made to a dental clinic at PNC Park with “Team Smile.”

Taylor

And Heinz Endowments, one of Casa’s funders, featured us on their website last week.

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Liberty & Justice for All: Labor United to Free the Childrenon Wednesday we joined LCLAA and the Thomas Merton Center to rally in protest of the criminalization of immigrant children and families.

Our Story, continued:

Several weeks ago, the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia called Sister Janice to find help for José (we are not using real names) an immigrant from Sonora, Mexico, who has been living and working in Dunbar PA, about an hour south of Pittsburgh. Last October he suffered a severe brain hemorrhage which paralyzed the right side of his body.  The only funds he had disappeared long ago in medical bills.  He wants very much to go back home to his only family in Sonora, but because of his condition he can’t be transported via ordinary means.  His friend Joanne has been tirelessly caring for him and trying to find a solution, speaking frequently with Sr. Janice and others. Casa tried to arrange a suitable van, but that turned out to be considered unsafe. Medical air transport is the only way to get him home, but that alone is over $7000, and there are additional costs as well.

But now, with additional help from Sister Nancy in Dunbar and Opal at the New Sanctuary Movement of Pittsburgh, Jose’s return is at hand. The Mexican Consulate has found a way to subsidize the trip with $5000. New Sanctuary and Casa San José have set up an online fundraiser to start to cover the additional costs.  His social worker from Allegheny Health Network took care of needed medical releases and documentation. Arrangements are being made with a medical transport company to take him to the border in Nogales, AZ by the end of August.  Joanne will accompany him, and the Mexican authorities will transport him from there to his hometown of Etchojoa.  His mother is waiting for him.

Many thanks to all those who have already donated! We have not yet covered all the costs, so if you would like to contribute, here is the link.

More:

How Trump radicalized ICE: a long-running inferiority complex, vast statutory power, a chilling new directive from the top—inside America’s unfolding immigration tragedy”, Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, September 2018.  ” Immigration enforcement has been handed over to a small group of militant, anti-immigration hawks, who cultivate fear to accomplish their goal of driving out undocumented immigrants.”

DACA still in limbo“U.S. Court Orders Trump Administration to Fully Reinstate DACA Program”  Reuters, New York Times, Aug. 4.  but also “Can DACA Survive Its Latest Legal Attack in Texas?”, Vivian Yee, New York Times, Aug. 9.

“Deported parents describe agonizing wait to be reunited with their children”, Joel Rose, NPR, Aug. 14.

Thank you for joining us!

(This message is also posted on our website:  casasanjose.org.)

News for Amigos de Casa San José: Aug. 1, 2018

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

Help:

Join us for a celebration party on Aug. 3 during First Friday on Penn Ave., 7 pm – midnight, 5120 Penn Avenue!  Dinner all night with homemade food downstairs; and upstairs a dance floor, drink bar, and live performances by the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, the Mayday Marching Band, DJ Scotty, and DJ Mary Mack!  Casa San Jose is raising funds to send immigrant families, youth, DACA folks & allies down to Arizona to protest the border wall and to reunite a Pittsburgh family in AZ.

Also come to our lunch sale for immigrant justice every Friday afternoon 11 am – 2:30 pm at the same place, 5120 Penn Ave.  Tamales, fried plaintains, flan, etc. – fame of their deliciousness is spreading – last week we sold out!  And please help us spread the word and make this trip possible!!

Action:

One of our partners, the New Sanctuary Movement Pittsburgh is having a planning event on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6:30 – 9:30 at the Sixth Presbyterian Church, corner of Forbes and Murray.  Please “come and be part of this collaborative process! Bring your conviction, your compassion, and your creativity as we come together to support our neighbors.”

Still needed: From PICC:  protest the plan to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census.  The Trump administration Commerce Dept. wants to add a new question about citizenship status in the upcoming census, which will intimidate and depress responses among all immigrants.  This will result in an inaccurate census, and cause urban and other historically undercounted areas to lose billions in federal funds and also government representation.  The public comment period on the decision to include the question is now open, but you need to act fast:  submit your comments here by Aug. 7.

News:

Most exciting NEWS!!  We are delighted to announce that Monica Ruiz-Caraballo assumed the position of Executive Director of Casa San José on July 30.  Board Chairperson Jackie Abel-Stavropoulos writes in her letter to supporters, “Ms. Ruiz not only brings a deeply passionate advocacy to this leadership position, but also a solid background in organizing and engaging with community partners who share the mission of Casa San José.   Sister Janice Vanderneck, who has been serving as interim Executive Director, will continue her work as Director of Civic Engagement. Casa San José is blessed to have compassionate leaders and passionate advocates – in both Ms. Ruiz and Sister Janice – who continue to move our organization forward by addressing the critical needs of our Latino neighbors.”

Our Story, continued:

Recently we needed to provide emergency help to three sisters from Honduras. One, Karina (no real names are given) was living in a small dank unfinished basement in Beechview with her child, about to be evicted and potentially homeless.  She worked cleaning houses but only earned enough to afford this place, which was so substandard that Allegheny County CYS ruled that no child could be allowed to live there. On Monday, she was told they had to leave, and came to the Casa office in distress.

Meanwhile, her two sisters, Elena and Marta, with a child each, were on a bus that would arrive in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.  They had been months on the road through Mexico, making the grueling journey north to join her, believing that she was in a position to sponsor them.  These sisters were fleeing violent threats and extortion by Maras 18, one of many brutal gangs terrorizing Hondurans. They operated a hair salon, and couldn’t come up with the $5000 demanded of them at gunpoint.  After 2 days in line on a bridge, they made it across the border and after 2 weeks of detention in Texas, had been released pending trial on the basis of their sister’s sponsoring them.  Immigration officials put them on a bus for a 2-day journey to Pittsburgh; they had no money to buy food, but fellow passengers bought them sandwiches.

Then, according to our service coordinator Veronica, “magic happened.” She located a temporary home in our area through the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth; one of our volunteers picked up the sisters and their children at the bus station; donations were collected at our office to provide them with gift cards for food and necessities.  Within a week, full-time hotel housekeeping jobs were found for two of the sisters and by the second week they all moved into a good apartment in Beechview, with furnishings and household goods donated by Angel’s Place.  They are learning English with an ESL tutor who volunteers at Casa, and one of them has started using Duolingo on her phone.  The hotel manager is very pleased with their work.  The children will register for school in the fall.  We hope they are on their way to permanent residency and becoming a thriving part of our community.

More:

“Living in Limbo: A Guide to Understanding Your Rights, Benefits, and Obligations When You Have No Immigration Status”, ILRC – Immigrant Legal Resource Center, July 20.

Volunteers on the march!

“‘Deleted families’: what went wrong with Trump’s family separation effort – why hundreds of migrant children are still separated from their parents”, Nick Miroff et al, Washington Post, July 28.

“Trump administration must stop giving psychotropic drugs to migrant children without consent, judge rules”, Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, July 31.

“The Shadow War to Reshape the Face of America”, Carlos Guevara, UnidosUS, Medium, July 13.

“To avoid deportation, undocumented immigrants forego Medicaid for their American children”, PBS Newshour, June 25.

Video:  “The immigrants deported to death and violence”, Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker, Jan 1.

Looking for an enlightening summer read?  The Santa Cruz County Immigration Project and Bookstore Santa Cruz have a Recommended Reading List (and also an appendix list) with many inspiring, moving, and vivid portrayals of immigrants’ lives – often delightful, showing a whole other side from the tragedies in the news.  It’s often said that we learn best about the internal lives of others through stories:  here are some from the world’s most accomplished writers.

Thank you for joining us!

(This message is also posted on our website:  casasanjose.org.)

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News for Amigos de Casa San José: July 20, 2018

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

Help:

Every Friday from 11 am – 2 pm, we’ll be having a Lunch Sale for Immigrant Justice at 5120 Penn Ave. All food is made by local immigrant families and our very own youth, and vegetarian options, drinks, food and art will be available. We are raising funds to send immigrant families, immigrant youth, DACA folks, and allies down to Nogales, Arizona in November, to the SOA Watch Border Convergence of thousands of immigrant justice advocates to protest the border wall and the militarization of Latin America.   All donations go towards airfare, hotel rooms, car rental, gas, and food stipends. Last year we sent 32 people, this year we’re aiming for 40!

From Jeimy and our great kids:  last year we had an amazing Back to School Bash! We were able to give 65 kids book bags filled with school supplies. This year we want to have a Summer Isn’t Over Party! Last year’s party and school supplies were only possible because of our amazing donors. Please help us this year again 🙂 with this list: http://a.co/1SuxM3s

Action:

From PICC:  protest the plan to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census.  The Trump administration Commerce Dept. wants to add a new question about citizenship status in the upcoming census, which will intimidate and depress responses among all immigrants.  This will result in an inaccurate census, and cause urban and other historically undercounted areas to lose billions in federal funds and also government representation.  The public comment period on the decision to include the question is now open, but you need to act fast:  submit your comments here by Aug. 7.

News:

On 2 Saturdays in July (the 14th and the 21st) we are offering a free immigration law clinic, with appointments to consult an immigration lawyer. We will have these twice a month all year long.

On Wednesday we said farewell to our intern for the past year, Katie Campagna, who played a huge role in our youth programs, and just about everything else.  Katie is going on to graduate school in New York City – we know she’ll work for justice and make a difference in the world wherever she goes.

On July 2, Sister Janice joined Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project, and Sister Linda Yankoski, CEO of Holy Family Institute at a prayer vigil held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in the North Hills, to discuss ways to help local residents as well as immigrants escape poverty and violence. Sister Janice told the group, “My goodness, there is more than enough love to go around when we all tap into our love.”  She also spoke at Allegheny Unitarian and Universalist Church on July 8 in their Conversations About Race + Action series.

On Sunday, July 1, Monica spoke at the “We Will Not Be Banned” march on the Roberto Clemente bridge, to protest the ongoing attempts to divide, silence, and erase our communities – the Muslim ban, police brutality in our own backyard, attempts to destroy our labor unions, threats to LGBTQIA rights.  This action was hosted by Casa San José, The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, All for All, Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh United, The Alliance for Police Accountability, and 1Hood Media.

And on Saturday, June 30, Casa was present at three #FamiliesBelongTogether rallies. We sent a full bus to the march in DC, addressed 1000+ people at the at the Pittsburgh event in Mellon Square downtown, and Sr. Janice spoke at the Beaver County Courthouse.  All were full of determined people vehemently protesting the Trump administration’s cruel and unjust anti-immigrant policies, especially the agonizing separation of families.

march

Our Story, continued:

In late June, new volunteers Jane and Patrick signed up to be advocates for undocumented young people who, when they reach their 18th birthday, no longer have legal protection from ICE detention.  A week later, they got the call about Mario.

Mario’s 18th birthday present was that he could no longer stay at the organization that had been caring for him, and would be sent immediately to the ICE office on the South Side.

Monica told Jane and Patrick how to meet him at ICE, and how to contact Ana, his cousin and sponsor.  Ana was driving from her home in Long Island to bring him back to live with her.  Since Mario has a possible legal case to stay in the US, he won’t be deported immediately, and since he has a sponsor, he won’t have to await his trial in prison. There was a wait for several hours at the ICE office, but when Jane and Patrick finally took charge of Mario they found a sweet-natured, slight teenager with an ankle monitor around his leg.  He was greatly relieved to go back to their home for a good lunch and a rest before his cousin picked him up late in the day.  Jane later reported, “We talked to his cousin today and they’ve secured a lawyer for him and are helping him tell his story of a very dangerous life in Guatemala.”

The latest call came on Tuesday night, to help Sonia, a shy and diminutive 18-year-old, who needed to get from ICE custody to her sponsor in Florida the following day.  There was no time to locate a volunteer, so from our office, Kate left to retrieve her from ICE  and Andrea contacted the sponsor and figured out how to provide Sonia with a plane ticket.  Sonia had lunch and spent the day with us.  We learned how to charge her ankle monitor, and got her on Skype with her family in Guatemala.  We gave her as much information as we could about her rights and how to navigate possible dangers.

But nobody could know what lies ahead for this brave and vulnerable young woman, who actually looks about 14, who speaks no English, has no phone, can’t read or write, and was unsure even how to step onto an escalator.  She asked Sister Janice to pray with her, and while she did, Sonia’s tears were shared by everyone in the room.  Yet she was determined to go on, and had faith that she would be protected.  Kate then took her to the airport and worked with American Airlines personnel (who were kind and helpful) to accompany her to the gate (she had a special ICE ID, but her monitor set off the security alarm), and arrange assistance to get her to her connecting flight. We hope we will hear from her soon.

More:

“‘Treated Worse than Dogs’: Immigrant Kids in Detention Give Firsthand Accounts of Squalid Conditions” Gus Bova, Texas Observer, July 18.  The report itself, the court filing from the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, provides the full declarations of 225 detainees, in appalling detail.

“From Crib To Court: Trump Administration Summons Immigrant Infants”, Kaiser Health News, Washington Post, July 18.

“The government had no intention of reuniting separated families.  There’s also no plan to do so now” , Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, June 25.

Videos:

Thank you for joining us!

News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 28, 2018

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

Help:

Pressley Ridge, which has been caring for children since 1832, is a foster care agency. Because there has recently been an increase in their Spanish-only speaking youth, they are in need of Spanish-speaking homes and families to care for them. If you might be willing to consider this, please contact Gigi D’ Amico at 412-583-2195 or ldamico@pressleyridge.org for more information.

Action:

Please join a #FamiliesBelongTogether rally!  This Saturday, June 30, people all over the country are gathering to protest the Trump administration’s cruel and unjust anti-immigrant policies.  The main march is in Washington DC, and Casa is sending a contingent to represent us.  Pittsburgh’s rally is from 11-1 in Mellon Square downtown.  There is even a candlelight vigil at 8 pm at the Beaver County Courthouse, where they probably could use some more folks.  Wherever it is, let’s stand together against the criminalization of immigrants and the separation of families.

And please also join us on Sunday, at 2 pm at the Roberto Clemente Bridge for the “We Will Not Be Banned” march, to protest the relentless attempts to divide, silence, and erase our communities – the Muslim ban, police brutality in our own backyard, attempts to destroy our labor unions, threats to LGBTQIA rights – we will not be divided and we will not be stopped. This action is hosted by Casa San José, The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, All for All, Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh United, The Alliance for Police Accountability, and 1Hood Media.

News:

Last Tuesday, in Salem, Ohio, 70 miles from Pittsburgh, ICE raided a meat-packing plant and arrested 146 workers who were from Guatemala.  The scene was chaotic and heartbreaking, with mothers and children left without fathers and breadwinners. Unions immediately brought in attorneys to do what they could, but most couldn’t speak Spanish, so they contacted Monica to see if she could round up some translators.  Within 12 hours 30 wonderful volunteers offered to take turns over 3 days.  We send them all ¡mil gracias! and especially to Mary Jane McCullough and the group from Global Wordsmiths.

Over a hundred fellow Pittsburghers and numerous faith leaders marched on the ICE office on the South Side Monday, closing the Hot Metal Bridge for a short time, to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.  Organizers included: Casa San Jose, the Thomas Merton Center, Pittsburgh United, and the Pittsburgh Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, as well as the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network.

march on hot metal

Here’s something happy to report:  Casa’s Campamento Sonrisa had 3 sun- (and rain-) and fabulous fun-filled weeks, and celebrated its last day with a trip to Moraine State Park and a talent show.  Here they are beating the heat earlier this week:

Campamento pool

Also extremely happy was the Thomas Merton Center’s New Person Award ceremony and dinner on June 26, honoring Monica’s dedication and passion for justice.

new person

Our Story, continued:

17-year-old Sonia (not her real name) was separated from her mother soon after they were arrested at the border. They had come to the US from Chiapas, Mexico, and her mother was quickly deported.  Casa got a call that she was in Pittsburgh and in need of an advocate to help her. She had reached her 18th birthday by then and was no longer eligible for underage care.  Sonia wanted nothing more than to get back to her mother and her home in Mexico, but there was a wait of about a month while arrangements and permits needed to be made.  She had to wear an electronic ankle monitor, “shocking to see on a young innocent girl”, said Ruth, our volunteer who took care of her during that time.  But she went to the zoo and a farm and shopping with Ruth, helped Katie with the kids’ programs at Casa, cooked Mexican food with Jeimy, and celebrated Bartolo’s graduation with Monica’s family.  She made it back to Chiapas and was reunited with her Mom.  It was inevitably a traumatic time for Sonia, but as Ruth said, it was probably “the best horrible experience one could have.”

More:

“Congress heads home without passing immigration bill”, John Parkinson, ABC News, June 28.

Seizing children from their parents at the border is immoral:  here’s what we can do about it.  Editorial Board, New York Times, June 14.

How you can fight family separation at the border: lawyers, translators, donations, protest.  Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, June 15.

The Washington Post has some excellent up-to-the-minute news videos on this crisis.

“The real alternatives to detention”, report from the Women’s Refugee Commission et al. “Immigration detention has been proven to traumatize vulnerable populations, jeopardize the basic health and safety of those detained, and undermine meaningful
access to counsel in isolated, remote facilities. Immigration detention is driven by profit and politics, not public safety. It continues to be used despite the availability of effective and cost-efficient alternatives to detention.

A piece of good news:  “Record-High 75% of Americans Say Immigration Is Good Thing”, Megan Brennan, Gallup Poll, June 21.

Thank you for joining us!

 

“Protesters mass outside Pittsburgh ICE HQ to decry Trump immigration policy”

“The rally, which led to a temporary closure of the Hot Metal Bridge, was organized by local immigrants’ rights advocates at Casa San Jose, the Thomas Merton Center, Pittsburgh United, and the Pittsburgh Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, as well as the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network.

Monica Ruiz, a community organizer with Casa San Jose, addressed the crowd in front of 3000 Sidney St. just after 2 p.m.  ‘We’re here today because we want to show the world that this is not the type of treatment we want for our families here in Pittsburgh or across this country,’ she said.” Read it here.

“Immigration protest blocks Hot Metal Bridge intersection on Pittsburgh’s South Side” Interview with Monica on Channel 4 Action News today.

“It shouldn’t have taken little kids crying in cages for kids to wake up and realize that this is happening on a daily basis, so separation — whether it’s at the border or at someone’s house at 6 o’clock in the morning, while their father’s being taken from their arms — is not acceptable,” said Monica Ruiz, a community organizer with Casa San Jose in Pittsburgh.”  See the video here.

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“Fate of 50 immigrant children in Pittsburgh area remains uncertain”

“Their parents obviously aren’t in Pennsylvania, so I don’t know how they’re going to get where their parents are,” said Monica Ruiz, a Latino community organizer with Casa San Jose in Pittsburgh’s South Hills.

“Holy Family isn’t a bad place. But these kids are still not with their families,” Ruiz said. “The kids should be immediately reunited with their families, and those families should be able to get out on bond because they’re looking for asylum.”  Read the full article here.

Natasha Lindstrom, Triblive, June 21, 2018.

“Local advocates trying to help those caught up in zero tolerance immigration policy”

“Pittsburgh-area faith leaders and other advocates for immigrants are ramping up efforts on behalf of immigrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration.”

“’If I had my druthers, churches would be having prayer vigils all over the place,’ said Sister Janice Vanderneck, executive director of Casa San Jose, a resource center for the Pittsburgh-area Latino community.  She said the center, like others aiding immigrants and refugees, has been inundated by callers offering to help. ‘People want to do something,’ she said.”  Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, June 19, 2018.  Read more here.

 

 

News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 15, 2018

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

Help:

We need a few volunteers to help with a “Build-a-Bike” event for 10 of our youth ages 8-10 on Thursday, June 21 at Heinz Field.  We need 2 people to accompany the kids on the bus as well as help out at the event:  arriving at the Casa office at 2116 Broadway at 11:40 a.m. and returning there at around 6 p.m.  We also need several more people to come to Heinz field to help with the activities, which will be a tour of Heinz field and building a bike from donated parts.  Volunteers will need clearances to work with children (which are easy and fast to get online.)  We are working with ARYSE and the United Way to do this.  For some of our youth this will be their first time riding a bike, for most this will be their first time getting a bike of their own! If you want to go on the bus, please contact Katie at katherine@casasanjose.org.  If you want to go directly to Heinz Field, contact madelinefranke44@gmail.com at ARYSE for directions.

Action:

Your response to our call for people to attend Community Resistance Zone training was amazing – thank you!!  We had 35 attendees, including both Latino community members and allies.  Everyone learned about immigrant rights, ways to support neighbors in the face of ICE raids and racial profiling, and shared stories and knowledge.  It was so successful that we are having another training at the end of August, so we are looking for more participants!  Stay tuned for the date, and for more information, please contact Monica at monica@casasanjose.org.  This will be one of our most important and impactful programs this year.

community resistance training

Help stop the terrible separations of parents and children.  On Friday, Senator Dianne Feinstein along with other Senate Democrats announced legislation to prevent authorities from separating children from their parents at the border.  A good Father’s Day action would be to call your legislators and ask them to support the Keep Families Together Act.

News:

Campamento Sonrisa has begun!  For three weeks, Casa is providing a summer camp experience in the city, the only affordable program for Spanish-English bilingual students in Pittsburgh.  We have 4 youth counselors to lead our 17 wonderful students, ages 7-14, through an awesome list of activities, including Moraine State Park, Kennywood, Phipps Conservatory, the Mattress Factory, Frick Park, swimming, golf, volleyball, soccer, art projects, a talent show, and more!

campamento

Last summer we told the story of Bartolo, Monica’s foster son (see photo and narration below.)  Today we congratulate him on his graduation from Hill House Passport Academy high school!

Bartolo photo

(From our newsletter, August 24, 2017) “A week ago, Sarah, a Casa volunteer, took Bartolo to pick up his green card!  It has been an amazing journey. It began when a boy of 16 left Guatemala alone, fleeing poverty and violence. He traveled for months, crossing deserts, and finally ended up in Pittsburgh working 12-hour days for less than minimum wage in order to send money home to his family in Guatemala. Malnourished and living on a mattress in a basement, he ended up hospitalized with a nearly fatal disease. Miraculously, sensitive judges, health workers, and Casa San José staff (Monica became his foster mother) came together to get him to recover and also achieve the legal status he needed to move toward his eligibility for a green card, the only way to ultimately become a citizen.” Bartolo’s earlier story received national coverage on the radio program, PRI’s The WorldRead or listen to it here.

And in our own SEEN column today, here are volunteers Dan and Daniel, who brought their tools and excellent carpentry skills to make our new legal program office private and confidential for our clients.

Dan and Daniel

 Our Story, continued:

Last Sunday, University of Pittsburgh students in the psychology class “Children’s experiences of war and trauma”, taught by Dr. Robert Gallen and Dr. Jennifer Willford, came to meet and listen to some of Casa San Jose’s families. Sister Janice spoke to them about the work that Casa does. The students brought snacks and beverages for all to share and came prepared with wonderful activities for the kids.

Here’s what they heard about:  one Guatemalan child and one Mexican child had crossed the border with their parents.  The Mexican girl was separated from her mother at the border, and her mother was deported; the child is waiting for arrangements to be deported too so they can be reunited.  One boy came here with a father who neglected him, and now is becoming a foster child in the U.S.  Two brothers have very different situations: one was born a U.S. citizen and has benefits such as health insurance, while the other is undocumented and receives none, and is in greater danger. The father in another family was deported and they miss him terribly.  In yet another family, the father is a single dad of kids who are U.S. citizens. He is afraid that he may be deported and his kids could be placed in foster homes. All of the families told the students how scared they are of being separated.

 More:

The latest on DACA:  “House immigration bill, pitched as compromise, tilts to a harder line”, Thomas Kaplan and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, June 14.

“For Women, Decision by Sessions Puts Asylum Dreams Out of Reach”, Liz Robbins, New York Times, June 12.

“All the ways Trump is cutting legal immigration” Alan Gomez, USA Today, June 12.

“ICE came for a Tennessee town’s immigrants.  The town fought back”, Miriam Jordan, New York Times, June 11.

“‘Mothers could not stop crying”: Lawmaker blasts Trump policy after visiting detained immigrants”,  Amy Wang, Washington Post, June 10.

“Chicago immigration advocates travel through Pittsburgh, request federal support for DACA”, Ryan Deto, City Paper, May 26.  This group of 30 from the Faith Life and Hope Mission church is walking 800 miles for “dignity & respect for human lives” and stopped at Casa on the way.

Thank you for joining us!