News for Amigos de Casa San José: October 22, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

With the fate of DACA now in the hands of the Supreme Court, hundreds of thousands of people could lose their homes, their livelihoods, and their families. It’s time to put an end to this fear and uncertainty and show the Supreme Court that DACA recipients and immigrant families aren’t going anywhere — because their #HomeIsHere.

  • ON NOVEMBER 12TH, join Casa San Jose for a free bus trip to join the national action and demand the Supreme Court defends DACA and protects all of our families!
  • We leave at 6:00 a.m., so arrive before then. We will be back in Pittsburgh at 8:00 p.m. We’re leaving from St. Catherine’s Church in Beechview – 1810 Belasco Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15216. Reserve your spot here.

Join Casa’s Rapid Response Team! There are a number of needs in the immigrant community that happen with short notice, such as transportation, emotional support, interpretation, accompaniment to an ICE check-in or court hearing, providing overnight accommodations, etc. Members of the team agree to be contacted and, whenever they can, to help in one or more of these ways. More information and a link to the volunteer application are available here. If you have a question about this, email

How you can help:

Award-winning artist and sculptor (and Casa volunteer) Jaime Guerrero’s astonishing and moving exhibit “Cuando el Río Suena is now at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, 5472 Penn Avenue, interpreting the danger experienced by migrants crossing the US border.  Please visit the exhibit any day, and also join us THIS WEEK as Sister Janice will join the artist in a talk there on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 6:30pm. A portion of the proceeds of any piece that sells will be donated to Casa San Jose.

Glass sculptor Jaime Guerrero and future glass artists

We need donations of the following. If you have any of these to give, please bring them to our office at 2116 Broadway (except for the refrigerator – for that, email ¡Mil gracias!

  • Carseats – for an infant and for a toddler. 
  • Diapers for children that are arriving – can be any size but the smallest ones are especially needed.
  • Baby wipes
  • An energy-efficient regular-sized refrigerator
  • Floor lamps.

News on what we’re doing:

Our first Latino Community Day on Oct. 13 was a wonderful success! The sun shone on everyone enjoying great Latino music, food, children’s activities, and each other’s company.

Many, many thanks to the strong and generous volunteer team from Duquesne Light! They worked incredibly hard to build shelving and completely organize a thousand items in our chaotic, dusty basement on a beautiful day in October.

Sister Karen and the Duquesne Volunteer Team

Casa San Jose joined CCAC North Campus on their celebration of Hispanic Heritage Day on September 25th. We interacted with more than 30 students whom with we shared information about the work that Casa does and why people are fleeing Central America. We had a fun activity asking students to mention at least 20 Latin American countries.

¡Que Viva Clemente! – once more this yearly celebration created by the Pittsburgh Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) was both great fun and a terrific fundraiser for Casa’s Fondo Solidario bond fund for those detained by ICE.

Youth Organizer Jose is recruiting high school students for our after-school program at Brashear, Jovenes con Propósito.

Our Community Meeting in October was about how to ensure that all students, regardless of their immigration status, are welcome, safe and protected in their school environments. Kim Dinh from the PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition introduced the parents to our their Welcoming Schools Toolkit.

Meeting attendees with our Community Organizer Veronica and PICC’s Kim Dinh

Our story, continued:

Last month, four of our Rapid Response volunteers accompanied Domingo (not his real name) to a municipal court hearing for a traffic violation. Domingo has been in the US for 12 years, has a wife and a 4-month-old baby and a secure job. This is the first time he has ever been in court. There has been an increasing number of ICE arrests in courthouses, so our volunteers try to lend some protection and emotional support to undocumented people who dutifully come to their required hearings.

As our group sat in the courtroom, two ICE agents appeared at the end of their row; they were accompanied by what appeared to be 4 Deputy Sheriffs. They quickly arrested Domingo, preventing him from complying with his hearing, and took him out through the back door, telling the volunteers that they could see him at the ICE office.

Volunteers Jo and Allan, after this experience, wrote this letter to the press:

“When ICE can drag away an undocumented immigrant from a courtroom who lawfully shows up for a hearing, something is VERY wrong.  We witnessed this first hand in Municipal Court with disbelief and despair.  If he had not shown up for his court appearance, he would have been cited for noncompliance.  This is part of the talking points that ‘nobody shows up for their hearing’ which has been proven over and over to be a lie. This undocumented immigrant has lived here for 12 years.  He has a wife and 3-month old baby at home.  He was complying with the law. Do we want to live in a society where ICE agents can snatch immigrants without due process and send them to detention centers?  Who’s next?  And for what perceived threat?  The Trump administration is already looking into deporting immigrants who have achieved citizenship through naturalization.  For all the cruelty the government has inflicted on innocent individuals and families with legitimate asylum claims, ICE is particularly egregious. Instead of deportation, let’s find ways to assist our immigrant neighbors and include them as part of the American family.”

Domingo was saved from immediate imprisonment or deportation by a very good attorney, who arranged for him to be released on $7000 bail. Half of that was covered by Casa’s bond fund, the Fondo Solidario, and the other half was covered by Domingo’s employer, who has that much confidence in and respect for him. His hearing has been rescheduled, and since he is now in a different legal category, ICE will hopefully stay away.

Learn more:

City of Asylum is celebrating the work of Latinx literary voices with a Latinx & Proud! reading series, to incite conversation, empower, & amplify the Latinx community in Pittsburgh, PA & beyond. The inaugural program will feature Denice Frohman, M. Soledad Caballero, Tanya Shirazi and Zeca Gonzalez. It will take place Tuesday, October 29, 2019 @ 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at 40 W. North Ave. on the North Side. Tickets are free – get them here.

“How ICE picks its targets in a surveillance age”, Mackenzie Funk, New York Times Magazine, Oct. 2. “After two officers came to a Pacific Northwest community, longtime residents began to disappear — a testament to the agency’s quiet embrace of big data.”

“Judges strike several blows to Trump immigration policies,” Miriam Jordan, New York Times, Oct. 11. “Judges in three states ruled against a policy that would withhold green cards to immigrants who receive public assistance such as Medicaid. Another judge ruled on border wall funding.”

On October 7, PA HB 1170, The Construction Industry Employment and Verification Act, became law in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf did not sign it, however, he also did not veto it. The bill expands the mandatory use of E-Verify to employers in the construction industry, and targets undocumented immigrants in particular. Immigrant rights group MakeTheRoadPA says this law “undermines workplace rights as undocumented workers are pushed further into the shadows and unscrupulous employers use the law to threaten workers from organizing for better working conditions.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi statement on DACA.

Thank you for joining us!

News for Amigos de Casa San José: September 20, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

Register to vote right here! Or get someone else to! The best way towards justice in immigration policy (and all issues) is through the ballot box on all levels: local, state, and federal. This year, October 7 is the last day to register before the 11/05/2019 election.

Attend the 3rd Annual March for Peace, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 11 am, in Schenley Plaza in Oakland. Every year the U.S. government spends billions financing destructive wars at the expense of needed domestic social and job programs . Help us end Pittsburgh’s role in this global military industrial complex.

How you can help:

Support Casa’s Fondo Solidario and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at LCLAA’s famous Viva Clemente party (tickets and more info. here)! Enjoy authentic Puerto Rican cuisine and live Flamenco music and dance. 80% of all funds raised will go to Casa San José’s fund to assist families impacted by ICE arrests and detentions.

For our upcoming Latino Community Day celebration on October 13, we want to have a “free” raffle for our community members to win a fun gift basket.  Please consider donating one or more of those baskets, by purchasing them on this Amazon list, and you will make some families very happy!  (Purchasing them will send them directly to our office. The shipping may take about a week, so please act fast.)  ¡GRACIAS!

If you’re participating in a United Way campaign, you can direct your contribution to Casa San José! Use Agency Code 11481512.

News on what we’re doing:

Puentes Hacía el Futuro is back! Led by our youth coordinators, José and Angela and our great volunteers, our Saturday program for kids has returned after the summer with music lessons and soccer practice in the great Boys & Girls Club of Carnegie space.

On Sept. 10, free English classes have returned at our East Liberty Office in the East Liberty Presbyterian Church. 20 people signed up the first day! If you know anyone who would be interested, call our office there at (412)339-6666.

Laura is getting daily calls for help on the Emergency Response line concerning situations around ICE detentions. We always need more people for our Rapid Response Team, which provides accompaniments for those who need to present themselves at ICE headquarters or court appearances. Those are often on short notice. If you’d like to be a volunteer who does this, please fill out the volunteer form on our website, and Sister Valerie will contact you.

Speaking out:

  • Monica was interviewed on Comcast Newsmakers about Casa San José and efforts to make the Latino voices heard in Southwestern PA.
  • Independent local news publisher, Pittsburgh Current, did an in-depth podcast interview with Laura, our Emergency Response Organizer, about the impact immigration raids have on families and communities, immigrant rights, and how to be a successful ally. Listen to it here.
  • On Sept. 11 at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Sister Janice did a presentation with Rabbi Ron Symons for Allies in Faith: Encouraging Hospitality to Immigrants. They addressed local religious leaders on theological (faith based) foundations of hospitality and “welcoming the stranger.”

Casa joined the Latinx Student Association as they kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month at the University of Pittsburgh – which has many events coming up, including “Family Separations – Long- and Short-term Effects on Children,” at the Pitt School of Public Health on Oct. 11.

Our story, continued:

After so many tragedies, this is an uplifting story.

Five years ago, our volunteer and inspirational author Anne Kertz Kernion heard, through a contact from Sr. Janice, that two young immigrant boys had just arrived in her North Allegheny school district.  They needed some help getting their immunization shots, and she said she could certainly do that. Unexpectedly, this began a whole new chapter in her family’s life, and literally in one of her books.  Here’s how she put it in A Year of Spiritual Companionship: “Speaking of seeing things, I have two friends, Juan and Michael (not their real names), who are bringing new perspectives to our lives.  They are sixteen-year-old immigrants who made the harrowing trip by themselves from Guatemala, braving rain, hunger, and danger I can’t comprehend – all for the chance of a better life.  We don’t know if they will be allowed to stay, but they are joyful, kind, and thankful for the simplest things.”

Anne said that when she first met Juan at his very modest home, shared with Michael and a few older men also from northern Guatemala, the young man welcomed her as if he were inviting her to a castle, with heartwarming hospitality.  She and her husband soon found themselves proactively looking after the boys’ needs – taking them to the dentist and the oral surgeon, finding clothes and backpacks for school, navigating the banking and transportation systems.  They found that wherever they went together, others also wanted to help – they were immersing themselves in a community of caring.  North Allegheny High School staff and teachers offered enormous support and were deeply sad when the boys had to leave school after just a year to go to work, Juan to a restaurant kitchen.

While Michael found assistance with the Sisters of Charity, Juan remained under Anne’s family’s wing, and they connected him with the legal representation he needed.  But most enjoyable were the outings to discover even common things, and see them anew with his eyes: escalators, bowling balls, the mall, Halloween, the ocean! 

Today, with the help of his lawyer’s skill and diligence, Juan has a T-Visa and a social security card, and the ability to apply for a green card in 2 ½ years.  He can get a driver’s license, can take airplanes, is eligible for financial aid.  While working full-time as the sushi chef in an award-winning restaurant, he’s working on his GED so he can apply to Pitt.  He is a part of Anne’s family now, and though he shows his gratitude often, Anne says that the blessing is much more on their side.  She says, “What we have received is way more than we have given. You can’t pick up every starfish, but you can pick up one.”

Learn more:

Administration appears to reverse decision to deport critically ill children after pressure from Oversight Committee”, U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Press Release, Sept. 19.

On Sept. 11, the Supreme Court issued an “order that effectively locked nearly all Central American migrants out of the asylum process. The Court’s order is temporary, and it only allows the asylum ban to remain in effect while the case is working its way through the courts. It stays a lower court decision that blocked the ban. Though this litigation will continue to percolate in lower courts, other judges are likely to read the Supreme Court’s order as a sign that a majority of the justices will ultimately uphold the ban.” (from “Justice Sotomayor warns the Supreme Court is doing ‘extraordinary” favors for Trump'”, Ian Millhiser, Vox, Sept. 12.)

Don’t forget about DACA! “Without action, more DACA recipients than ever before could see their DACA protection expire in October,” Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, Center for American Progress, August 15.

“For one Latino family, a routine traffic stop by a PA trooper turned into a 2-hour interrogation over their immigration status”, Jeff Gammage, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 27. Maria Marquez’ partner and son were taken to York County Prison and placed into deportation proceedings because “they did not have papers.”

Thank you for joining us!

News for Amigos de Casa San José: August 29, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

Join our partner Just Harvest to protest a new Trump proposal which would deny food stamps to millions of Americans of food stamps – 16,000 people in Allegheny County – and block many low-income children from getting free school meals.  Come to “Power of the Pen: Protect Access to SNAP” on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 6 pm, 1 Smithfield St. downtown – and write strong words to those in power.  You can register here.

How you can help:

Does anyone have an office-type wireless laser printer they no longer need?  Our East Liberty office needs one badly.  If you can donate one, please contact Andrea at

News on what we’re doing:

¡¡Mil gracias/Thank you!! to all our Amigos who donated school supplies to our Back to School Bash, and were given out to our kids last Saturday. Here is our Youth Coordinator José with the packages that were arriving daily:


Hundreds attended the gun control rally to “disarm and dismantle hate” on August 8 in Squirrel Hill following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Casa San Jose was one of the sponsors and Monica spoke to the crowd.
Laura gave an extensive interview to Charlie Deitch’s Pittsburgh Current podcast , where she explains in clear detail what Pittsburgh Latino immigrants are experiencing, how ICE is operating locally, and what Casa is doing to help.  Please listen!
Sister Janice joined fellow Sisters Patti Rossi and Jeanette Bussen as they traveled to our Southern border in McAllen, Texas, to meet and serve the immigrants coming to the Humanitarian Respite Center, run by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.  The migrants arrived in a state of exhaustion and fear after a harrowing journey. The Sisters helped them with paperwork, transportation, meals, clothing, childcare, language issues, and distributed, among many other items, 260 pairs of shoes. The Beaver County Times covered the story.
Sr Janice at respite center
Save the dates –
Friday, Oct. 4 from 6-9 pm for the opening reception of award-winning Sculptor Jaime Guerrero’s exhibition at Pittsburgh Glass Center.  This extraordinary exhibit of blown glass children and angels, dramatizing the plight of refugee children, will extend through Jan. 26.  On Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 6:30 pm, both the artist and Sr. Janice will offer a talk about Casa’s involvement with the community, and how Jaime’s work with us as a volunteer has influenced this exhibition.  It is entitled “Cuando el Río Suena” (“When the River Sounds”).  The Pittsburgh Glass Center is located at 5472 Penn Ave.

Opportunities with our allies:

Our story, continued:

Laura, our Emergency Response Organizer, recently told us the story of Isabel (not her real name), a legal permanent resident in Pittsburgh. She called our emergency number to seek help for her sister who fled Honduras with her two daughters.  They had presented themselves at the Laredo border asking for asylum.  They were given a court date in 120 days and told to go back to Mexico. This is a policy by the Trump administration known as “Plan Mexico.”

That same day they were sent back to Mexico, they were kidnapped by narco-traffickers – who called Isabel to tell her to pay $7500 apiece to release them.  (They also told her that if she paid more, they would bring them to San Antonio.)  Isabel was worried sick, and started to look for money from relatives, friends, anyone, to pay them.  After she called Casa for help, Laura got in touch with the FBI, who were helpful, suggesting questions to ask and what to do.  Has she heard the voice of her sister, for instance, and when was the most recent time she heard all three? They emphasized that kidnappers don’t think twice about killing people.

Soon, Isabel was told to provide $2000 by the end of the day or they would be killed.  But miraculously, at the end of that day, the cartel suddenly let them go, and put them on a bus to Monterrey, in Mexico.  Now, Laura needed to find out how to help them in that city.  Casa contacted our friends and volunteers with connections in Monterrey. Through their help, Isabel’s sister and her children got to a shelter, the Albergue y Comedor Público para Mujeres Migrantes, and we got pictures of their arrival.  The challenge is now to get them back in time for their court hearing, and to find psychological help for the sister here, who has been traumatized.  That was one of 4 calls Laura got that day.

Learn more:


And read:

Thank you for joining us!

News for Amigos de Casa San José: July 29, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter, which will be taking an August break.  See you in September!

How to take action:

Latest attack on immigrants, in effect right now: Trump has ordered a vast expansion by DHS of ‘expedited removal,‘ permitting agents to rapidly deport a much larger category of undocumented immigrants, bypassing immigration judges.  ICE officers can now replace both judge and jury which is a clear violation of due process. An estimated 300,000 people are at risk of immediate arrest and deportation, not to mention predicted mistaken deportations of nonwhite citizens.  Stay tuned for suggested actions; for now, speak out whenever you can.

Please keep urging Governor Wolf to shut down the Berks Family Residential Center, the only family immigrant detention center in the state.  It has a history of abuse and poor conditions; Gov. Wolf has tried to revoke its license, only to be countermanded by a judge.  He still has the power to close it through an Emergency Removal Order (ERO.)  Ask him to use it. Write a postcard to: Gov. Tom Wolf, 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120 or call his office at 717-787-2500. Also write Lt. Gov. John Fetterman at 200 Main Capitol Bldg, Harrisburg, 17120, or call him at 717-787-3300.  More information and resources here.

How you can help:

One of the best ways to combat family separation is to contribute to an immigrant bond fund, of which there are many around the country.  Here in Pittsburgh, you can go to to support our Fondo Solidario (which appears in the “reason for donation” box.) It helps get people out of prison on bond, so they can fight their case at home with the loving support of their families and much easier access to legal help.

News on what we’re doing:

LFL crowd photo

On July 12, Casa, with many organization partners, led the Lights for Liberty Vigil in Schenley Plaza, joining people in more than 800 other cities around the world.  Over 600 people heard moving stories and prayers, and lit candles and sang together backed by the May Day Marching Band.  Hundreds of postcards were written to Governor Wolf to immediately shut down Berks Detention Center, and we called for a stop to the persecution and terrorization of migrants at the border and here at home.


Campamento Sonrisa wrapped up its first session, and is about to begin its second, based in Beechview from July 22 through August 15, with its 20 kids, with counselors and helpers, having fun all over town.

In the news:

  • Monica, Laura, and Veronica were featured on 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence on Friday, talking about ICE raids, ICE presence in Pittsburgh, and ways you can be a better ally.  Listen to it here.
  • In response to threatened ICE raids, Casa’s Emergency Response Organizer Laura Perkins was interviewed on KDKA TV News, to discuss how ICE arrests here in Pittsburgh are extraordinarily high for the number of undocumented immigrants in the region.  Unlike the police, whose goal is safety, ICE designs its raids to instill fear, characteristic of terrorism.  Also, Sister Janice spoke on KDKA Radio Morning News on Monday to explain how immigrants are feeling as ICE raids begin to take place.  You can see Laura here, and listen to Sr. Janice here.
  • Monica was interviewed by the City Paper about how Pennsylvania has the most aggressive immigration officers in the country, and also spoke at the Battle of Homestead Foundation – watch it here.

Laura at ELPC

On Monday, July 2nd, Casa San José, with Just Harvest’s Power of the Pen series, inspired an overflow crowd who came to the East Liberty Presbyterian Church to write legislators, protesting HUD’s proposed rule to evict mixed-status families from public housing. For more information, visit:

Casa youth speaking at Harrisburg Driving PA Forward

In Harrisburg, first Casa youth (pictured) joined other Pennsylvanians fighting for driver’s licenses for their undocumented immigrant parents, with the organization Driving PA Forward.  More information on that here.  Then Veronica represented Casa as we joined PICC, the ACLU of PA, and community members and advocates in Harrisburg to support the ACLU’s lawsuit against the state police stopping and illegally detaining immigrants and refugees. More information on the lawsuit is here.

Fiesta del sol image1

And of course, our Fiesta del Sol fundraiser on June 28 was a wonderful event and we send out profound thanks to all of our supporters for their generosity and encouragement.

We thank Global Wordsmiths, which starting July 1 is offering free certified legal translations for asylum seekers.

Our story, continued:

Emma, Vero, Kim, Zohra, and Sienna

Emma (pictured at left, next to Casa’s Community Organizer Veronica Lozada, and other allies) is a 10-year-old Pittsburgh immigrant-rights activist.  At the Lights for Liberty Vigil on July 12, she addressed the crowd of over 500.  The poems she read were written by another young Pittsburgher, Samantha Esquivel-Hernandez, whose father Martín was deported by ICE in 2017.

To My Beloved Father (excerpted)

No matter how hard we tried we still know you won’t come back

I remember those people who put you in jail they called you a criminal and a thief

But something that they didn’t see was that they were the criminals because they stole you away from me

Because of them I still miss all your smiles and all your company

You would always stop what you were doing just to make me happy

Not having you here makes my heart all empty

Other people might come and be here with me

But it wont be the same as it used to be when it was just you and me

Perhaps you might never come back or maybe you will, but I don’t know that. Perhaps this is our will. If so, I’ll be here standing still.

To my beloved father I still love you no matter what, and maybe that day when we see each other will never come. But the only thing that can mend this suffering pain is when we may meet again.

Learn more:

“Warning Of Danger To Children, Psychologists Urge Wolf To Close Detention Center”, Katie Meyer, WESA, July 18.

“Thousands of unaccompanied migrant children could be detained indefinitely.” Graham Kates, Manuel Bojorquez, and Angel Canales, CBS News, July 23.

“Pittsburgh has the most ICE arrests in the country,” Ryan Deto, Pittsburgh CityPaper, July 2.

“Pro-immigrant groups advocate for drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition for non-citizens”, Ryan Deto, Pittsburgh CityPaper, June 19.

“How PA Localities Help ICE:  A report released last Tuesday details how some county jails and police departments in PA help ICE deport immigrants”, Nigel Thompson, Al Día, July 3. (Veronica is quoted here.)

“Trump Is Dumping Asylum Seekers on American Streets—but Solidarity Activists Are Fighting Back”, Sasha Abramsky, The Nation, July 1.

Thank you for joining us!


Attend the Lights for Liberty Vigil, July 12, 7:30 pm, Schenley Plaza

Please attend the Lights for Liberty Vigil being held in Pittsburgh this Friday, July 12, at 7:30 pm at Schenley Plaza in Oakland.  We join over 580 locations and outraged people from around the country and the world to shine a light on the horrific abuses of the Trump administration in human detention camps.  Please also notify your friends and networks.  Also please bring candles and matches.

Here in Pittsburgh, Casa San Jose, All for All, 1Hood, ARYSE, Pittsburgh United, and Bend the Arc will demand that Gov. Wolf shut down the Berks County (PA) Family Detention Center, a prison for immigrant families, where children as young as 2-weeks-old have been incarcerated for the last 5 years.  Governor Wolf has the power to issue an Emergency Removal Order (ERO) on the Berks County Detention Center, and we will ask him to do it.

  • See here for more information about the Pittsburgh event.
  • See here for more information about the international events.

lights for liberty


News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 29, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

There is a lot happening now, especially around detention camps and ICE roundups, so this is longer than usual:

Call or write your legislators.

and tell them, as their constituent, that you want detained children to be immediately returned to their families; all detention conditions to be made safe, sanitary, and humane; investigations to be undertaken; and impending ICE raids to be called off.  Emphasize the urgency of the situation and ask what they are doing NOW to solve these problems without adding more enforcement actions.

Contact local officials to ask that they make plans to help immigrant communities that are affected by the raids. Find your city, county and town officials (also federal and state) here.

The City of Pittsburgh Police Department does not cooperate with ICE. If you live out of the city, please call and ask your mayor and local police department to not cooperate with ICE.

Report and document raids and arrests. By all means if you see an ICE raid in progress, record it on your phone if you can, and report it immediately to Casa San José’s Rapid Response Line – 412.736.7167.  But please be careful to avoid a false alarm, which could spread fear in immigrant communities. To help identify an ICE arrest, you can read about ICE raids and immigrant rights from the Immigrant Defense Project, or watch the “We Have Rights” videos from the ACLU.

Show your support for immigrants in your neighborhood.  Casa San José can provide “Zona de Respaldo” posters for your windows that show your commitment to assist immigrants at risk: contact Laura at to get one.  There are also colorful signs that say “”No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in Spanish and Arabic – you can order them or download a free .pdf from – or pick one up at our office at 2116 Broadway.  We hear all the time that these are very reassuring.

Donate:  Many immigrant support organizations are doing heroic work to provide legal help, human services, and advocacy to targeted populations, and funding makes them stronger. Of course, Casa San José greatly appreciates your generosity –  donations to us are welcome here.  In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Make the Road PA and Juntos are doing great work. And here is a good list of national organizations that are helping migrant children at the border.

One of the most effective ways to reunite immigrants separated from their families is to assist with paying their bail. You can donate to Casa’s bond fund, our Fondo Solidario. If you would like to do this, please go to our donate page and use the drop down menu to select Fondo Solidario.  (See “Our Story” in this newsletter for an account of its first use!)

Represent!  Protest marches and other civic actions to end detention camps, to halt ICE persecution, and to stand up for immigrant justice count on your presence, your signs and your voices.  We post them here in our newsletter and on our Facebook page.  Right now, we are starting to plan a local vigil in solidarity with the Lights For Liberty movement on July 12 – stay tuned for details!

One more thing that is time-sensitive:  Reminder for the Keep Families Together event happening on Tuesday July 2 at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 116 Highland Ave.  We will write and submit comments to the government protesting the new HUD proposal that would evict mixed-status families from subsidized housing. Over 100,000 families would face either eviction or being torn apart if this rule is put in place. Register here, or just come. Our partners in the event are Just Harvest, Pittsburgh United and the Thomas Merton Center.

How you can help:

For the program listed below, on July 12, we need the following.  

  • a few good souls who can set up and clean up, arriving at 5:45 pm and finishing up around 9.  Address of the program: St. Thomas More Family Life Center, 126 Fort Couch Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15241
  • some home bakers who can contribute cookies and deliver them to the Beechview office, 2116 Broadway Ave., anytime Thursday, July 11, or Friday, July 12 until 4 pm.

If you can do any of this, please contact Sr. Valerie at

Please come to this valuable and informative program:  Compassionate Accompaniment and Reflection Experience (CARE) – will inform attendees about what is happening with immigration issues here in Pittsburgh and the South Hills, and describe the CARE program, an initiative connecting faith-based volunteers with community members who are undocumented immigrants. The discussion will be led by Sister Janice Vanderneck from Casa San José, Immigration Attorney Samantha Tamburro, and a member of the Social Justice Seekers.   July 12, 2019, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., St. Thomas More Family Life Center, 126 Fort Couch Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15241.

Do you have any heavy duty shelving and/or a metal cupboard?  We have some storage challenges and could really use some.  If you do, please contact Sr. Karen –

News on what we’re doing:

Our Fiesta de Sol fundraiser on June 28 was wonderful!  We appreciate so much everyone’s many contributions and support.  More thanks, photos, and details will be in our next newsletter…

We are into the second week of Campamento Sonrisa. Youth Coordinator José Ochoa, East Liberty office manager Ruth Farrell and some great volunteers are taking 18 kids to the Zoo, Children’s Museum, Phipps Conservatory, Highland Park pool and playground, Bathhouse Ceramics Studio, Garfield Community Farm, Gateway Clipper, Nationality Rooms, and Carnegie Science Center as well as doing arts and crafts, and sports.  The photos tell it all!


We held a Father’s Day party and it was a blast!   We personally invited single fathers so that they could be celebrated.  412 food rescue provided two huge boxes of prepared BBQ food.   The kids loved playing with balloons and we taught a group of dads how to braid hair.  Father Fernando and Dr. Diego both came by, in addition to immigration attorney, Samantha Tamburro, her son Saul, and Laura’s dad.

Father's Day event

Legal clinics continue over the summer – we’re having one on June 29.

Monica was one of the speakers at a press conference Tuesday on the portico of the City-County Building, which introduced legislation to strengthen protections for the LGBTQ community,

Our story, continued:

This is an account from volunteer Nathaniel Yap about the latest door-knocking canvass in Beechview:

Last Saturday, along with perhaps four dozen other folks, I volunteered with Casa San Jose to inform our neighbors of how to respond to ICE safely and how to show support for our immigrant community members. It was really encouraging to see that so many of the people with whom we spoke are enthusiastically supportive of the immigrant community and are disturbed by the inhumane treatment that so many people are receiving from our federal government. And one thing I would say is, you never know what people are thinking when you knock on their doors.

There were several occasions where my canvassing partner and I thought we would get a negative response to our message and it would turn out to be the opposite. Example: at one door, an older white man opened the door and was shirtless and extremely well-muscled. Upon hearing that we were talking to neighbors to build support for the immigrant community, he looked at us squarely in the eyes, and sternly said, “I’m a Trump lover.” We summarily thanked him for his time and began to turn away, at which point, he abruptly said, “I’m kidding!” We all shared a good laugh. This man was an open book and shared so many views with us. We admittedly didn’t agree with him on everything, but he did indicate support for the Latino community and for Casa San Jose’s work. He ultimately agreed to take a poster to put up in his window to show his support.

Overall, it was a great canvass. The overwhelming majority of folks were very receptive to our message and our efforts, and we even managed to recruit a new volunteer who was eager to help. It’s truly fulfilling taking action to counter the destructive efforts of the American President. Get involved. I’m still a believer that it makes a difference and will ultimately be what saves America from further decline. Thank you to everyone out there who is doing what they can to turn our deeply damaged country around. Also – a huge thank you to Monica Ruiz-Caraballo, Laura Perkins, and others on the Casa San Jose team – you all are doing truly important work. Thank you!

Nathaniel and Maureen

Learn more:

“Inside a Texas building where the government is holding immigrant children”, Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, June 22.

“Detained migrant children got no toothbrush, no soap, no sleep.  It’s no problem, government argues”, Meagan Flynn, Washington Post, June 21.

“Interlocking systems: how Pennsylvania counties and local police are helping ICE to deport immigrants”, Amy Chin-Arroyo and Solena Laigle, Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University, June, 2019.  This new report reveals the extent of collaboration between PA local governments and ICE.  For instance, “ACLU Says PA Police Are Improperly Racially Profiling And Detaining Drivers,” Katie Meyer, WESA, June 27.

Crossing the border without authorization is a misdemeanor, which is classified as a criminal offense. though a minor one, similar to shoplifting or disorderly conduct.  Immigration hawks use this classification to brand undocumented people as “dangerous” criminals, mislead the public, and separate them from their children.  Some Democratic candidates are calling to change that law (Section 1325 of Title 8 of the U.S.Code) to a civil offense.

“Trump Threatens Census Delay After Supreme Court Leaves Citizenship Question Blocked”, Nina Totenberg, NPR, June 27.

“Where are people detained in the United States” – Freedom for Immigrants maintains the most up-to-date map of the U.S. immigration detention system.

Finally, some good news:

“Drivers licenses [in NY] for the undocumented are approved in a win for progressives”, Vivian Wang, New York Times, June 17.

Thank you for joining us!


News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 16, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

Our 3rd Zona de Respaldo door-knocking will happen in Beechview on Saturday, June 22, and we really need allies to show up.  As a canvasser, you will create a safer neighborhood for Latinxs by knocking on doors in pairs, educating residents on how to safely respond to ICE. Join us as we find ways to protect and defend one another. You’ll get a beautiful Casa San Jose t-shirt.  The last 2 teams loved the experience, so bring your friends!  Please contact Laura to sign up:

Please call your state legislators ASAP – budget will be voted on soon: Because of a new Census Bureau push to add a citizenship question that would frighten immigrants, PA is at risk of an undercount in the 2020 Census, meaning not only a big loss of federal funds for education, transportation, healthcare, etc., but a loss of representation.  PA legislators are right now negotiating about budgeting a public fund of $12.8 million to prevent such an undercount, and time is running out. We need your help asking them to do this.  Here are two ways to do this easily:  handy tool #1, and handy tool #2.

HUD is now proposing a rule that would either evict “mixed-status” families from government-subsidized housing or force family members to live separately.  So for instance, a US citizen living in subsidized housing, whose brother is applying for asylum and temporarily staying with her, would face eviction unless the brother moved out. HUD’s own analysis says that 108,000 people would be affected. About 70% of them are citizens or legal residents and 55,000 are children. This is yet another cruel attack on immigrants and poor people. We will let the government know that we will not stand for it. Public comment will be received until July 9.  Please join us and our partners at our Comment Party, Tuesday July 2, 6pm, East Liberty Presbyterian Church, McKelvy Room.  More info. here.

How you can help:

This would be so helpful for us:  Come to Fiesta del Sol!  Get your tickets here.

Fiesta del sol image1

Do you have a dehumidifier that you could donate?  We have a VERY humid basement, and sadly, ours has just stopped working.  If you can help, please contact Sister Karen at

News on what we’re doing:

On Sunday and Monday this week, Casa had a delegation at the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition’s 2019 Immigrant and Refugee Rights Convening in Harrisburg.  We brought community members and staff, along with our partners from the Women’s Shelter, Thomas Merton Center and ARYSE, and all participated in lobbying PA legislators, learning from workshops, training in leadership skills, and sharing their stories.  One of our community members was nominated for PICC’s Leadership Award, and another spoke movingly about education from the Capitol Rotunda steps.

Ibania despedida2

We sadly said farewell to Ibania Rivas, our Community Organizer, who will be heading west with her two beautiful children to Indiana.  She has done great work to help our community know their rights, take on leadership roles, and make their way forward in our city and country.  We will miss her greatly!

We are celebrating with our youth as they graduate from high school this year. Pictured are Fatima, Moises, and Jeovani from Brashear High School, who have been an important part of our Jóvenes con Propósito program.  We wish them all the very best as they take their strong leadership skills into future. ¡Pa delante!

Monica went on CBS Pittsburgh’s Kidsburgh Kidscast in a special bilingual edition, to help Latino families understand the laws concerning school, car seats, health insurance and more. Watch it here.

Ibania organized a visit for 26 Guatemalans to their consulate in MD to get passports, consular IDs and other documents needed to plead their asylum cases, among other things.  Many have ankle monitors, so we had to notify ICE that they were leaving the state temporarily.  They left at 4:30 am and got back around 8.  There is a waiting list already for the next visit.

We salute Dr. Diego Chaves-Gnecco as the 2019 Pediatrician of the Year by the American Academy of Pediatrics, PA chapter! In 2002, Dr. Diego created the first Pediatric Bilingual-Bicultural Clinic in Southwestern Pennsylvania, which has expanded to the program Salud Para Niños.  It provides culturally and linguistically competent primary care for children and families, and works to empower immigrants about their own health. He has helped our community members immeasurably over many years.

Our story, continued:

Roger, Brian and Wilmar 2

In February, Casa volunteer Roger Day received this email from Sister Valerie: “We received a request from one of our families for tutoring for their children – Ryan (10 yrs old) and Oscar (7). (We’re not using real names.)  Both need help with Reading and Math. Would be available weekdays after 6:00PM.”  He said yes, and reports that he is “having a blast.”

Roger has been connected with Casa San José for years, helping out with our Saturday programs and playing his tuba with Bésame and Musuhallpa for parties and fundraisers.  But as the severity and injustice of our government’s treatment of immigrants have ramped up, he wanted to do more. He hadn’t taught children before – though he taught graduate students in statistics and programming at the University of Pittsburgh, and mentors high school students at a summer health sciences academy.

But for these boys, he is finding there are many free and accessible educational resources for children – videos, simulation programs, apps, not to mention the slicing of a virtual pizza – that open up a world of mathematics at just the right level, leading to the introduction of Fibonacci numbers, Pascal’s Triangle and chess.  He also reads to them from readily available and marvelous children’s books – Dr. Seuss, Charlotte’s Web, Berenstain Bears – to captivate and expand their imaginations, and develop language skills that go beyond grammar.  He says that the curriculum “seems to be creating itself and pulling me along. These kids deserve the credit, they are so attentive, and funny, and get along so well!” Roger also tutors Jennie, 10 years old, who has some academic challenges, but he has found that giving her a positive experience in a safe place has boosted her self-esteem, and “when she felt capable, the light shone, and there were high fives with Mom.”

There are many positive side effects. Simple practical knowledge about life in our city can be shared with new arrivals.  This family was buying bottled water in quantity because they worried about lead in the tap water, and Roger was able to provide a water filter. Most importantly, parents can see that Americans welcome their families and offer respect and care.

Roger’s advice to other tutors is: “Be patient, open their eyes to possibilities, make sure they are challenged at the right level, and have fun!” He surely is, and finds that “these muchachos are utterly delightful companions.”

Learn more:

“The world’s malnourished children don’t need a $295 burger:  a quarter of the world’s children are stunted from inadequate diets,” Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, June 12.  This is a report based in Guatemala on severe child malnutrition there and elsewhere.

“‘Food Doesn’t Grow Here Anymore. That’s Why I Would Send My Son North:  A stark choice for some Guatemalans: watch crops wither, and maybe die with them, or migrate”, Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, June 5. More excellent reporting from this columnist on the reasons for immigration from Guatemala.

“Trump administration cancels English classes, soccer, legal aid for unaccompanied child migrants in U.S. shelters”, Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, June 5.  More attacks on children.

“The Census citizenship question is ‘a great way to undercount Latinos’
They want to be part of this exercise in democracy. But many are afraid.”  Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times, June 15.

“Where 2020 Democrats stand on Immigration”, Washington Post, June 11.  This explores the immigration policies of all those hopefuls.

“A new generation of ‘un-DACAmented’ high school graduates fights hurdles to higher ed”, Marnette Federis, PRI’s The World, June 10.  Young immigrant grads, because DACA accepts no new applicants, “can’t access most financial aid or scholarships, can’t work after they obtain degrees, and don’t have any protection from deportation.”

Thank you for joining us!


News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 1, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

Doorknocking team2

Last chance to participate!  Our 3rd Community Resistance Zone Canvass will happen in Beechview on June 22.  As a canvasser, you’ll knock on doors in pairs with a Spanish speaker, educating Latino residents on how to safely respond to ICE, and others on how to support their immigrant neighbors. Join us as we find ways to protect and defend one another.  There will be training, and you’ll get a beautiful t-shirt.  The last 2 teams loved the experience, so bring your friends!  Please contact Laura to sign up:

dream and promise

The Dream and Promise Act passed the House Judiciary Committee last week, and is expected to be up for a House vote soon.  Please call your House Reps (find them and their contact information here) to ask them to support the bill. If they are Democrats they are probably in favor but they still need to hear how important this issue is to their constituents.

How you can help:

Fiesta del sol image1

Come to Fiesta del Sol on Friday, June 28, 6-10!  At HIP at the Flashlight Factory, 831 W. North Ave.  It will be a celebration of our community and its most delightful cultural traditions, and the proceeds will allow Casa to do its vital work to help our community thrive.  Bring all your friends – we look forward to seeing you there!  Tickets are here.

The Beechview Branch of the Carnegie Library is encouraging Spanish-speakers to apply for a part-time position (15-20 hrs. a week.)  This would greatly help our community members take advantage of the public library’s many excellent free services, which have been integrating immigrants for generations. Here’s the posting (which has been extended to June 6.)

Hear an eye-witness report on conditions in Honduras: journalist Tom Webb will talk on his recent international, interfaith delegation visit Thursday, June 13, 2019 from 7 – 8:30 PM at One Smithfield Street, Downtown in the Liberty Conference Room, co-sponsored by Casa San Jose and the Thomas Merton Center.  Parking is available at the rear of the building (entrance from Ft. Pitt Blvd.)  For more information, call 412-780-5118.

Participate in the Steel City World Cup – especially if you can field a team representing a Central or South American country, but also just to celebrate and cheer on Pittsburgh’s vibrant and growing global community, expressed through soccer, the “beautiful game.”

News on what we’re doing:

We are holding a dinner for community members at the Dormont Public Library in June, to discuss immigrants’ rights and services available in Dormont.  Also our regular community meetings take place monthly on Sunday afternoons in Beechview.

PIIN banquet

Our youth had a great time at the the PIIN (Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network) banquet.

Casa San José was featured this month on “Education Pittsburgh, a program of Pittsburgh Community Television (PCTV21.) Host Linda DeAngelo interviewed Monica who spoke eloquently about our services, programs, and how to get involved with the Latino community.  Watch it here.

Our story, continued:

Sister Janice reports:  A Pitt professor of language retired and moved to her permanent home in Connecticut.  She took very little with her.  She donated everything to Casa San Jose. She learned about us through Father Dan Vallecorsa, the original Pastor of Saint Hyacinth Church where I began this work in 2003.  We put out a request to our Amigos to help us with transporting the donations.  Jay Moser, the principal of Community School West, responded, arriving with a pick up truck, another teacher and three students.  Two of them are Latino immigrant youth! They were such great people. Casa was there with staff members Laura Perkins and Jose Ochoa, one of our volunteers, community member Mike Aponte, and me.  We had our Casa van and Jose’s van.  Most of the items will go to the newly arriving immigrants coming from the border to settle here in the Greater Pittsburgh area.  (See the New York Times story below.)

A surprise reunion: when we were unloading, I introduced Jay Moser to our Finance Administrator Sister Karen Stoila.  Amazingly, Sister Karen taught Jay at St. Joseph High School in Natrona, PA!

Learn more:

“To stop border crossings, the US made the journey deadlier”, Leah Varjacques and Jessia Ma, New York Times, May 29.  This video piece highlights a deliberate policy to make desperate people risk their lives, and to punish those who try to help them.  Scott Warren, a humanitarian volunteer at the border, went on trial May 29.

“A migrant family takes a Greyhound across America:  Entering the U.S. at a rate of more than 5,000 a day, new arrivals from Central America are departing border towns by the busload”, Miriam Jordan, New York Times, May 26.  After their grueling trek north, here is an in-depth account of their continuing journey.

The “Public Charge” rule change (explained here) – though it has not yet been finalized – has already had a significant chilling effect:  “One in seven adults in immigrant families reported avoiding public benefits in 2018”, Hamutal Bernstein et al, Urban Institute Report, May 22.

Thank you for joining us!


News for Amigos de Casa San José: May 18, 2019

Dear Casa San José Amigos,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How you can help:

Our Fiesta del Sol fundraiser is coming up soon – please join us!

Fiesta del sol image1

We’ll have traditional foods from all over Latin America, inspiring music and traditional dancing, a silent auction and much more!   Buy your ticket here.

You can also make donations, either in cash or in gift cards, gift certificates, food, drinks, or anything else for the auction baskets!  Here is our donation form.

We are also seeking event sponsors. Here is a list of descriptions of our suggested sponsorship levels, and here is the Sponsorship Form to complete.

Please contact Sister Karen (, 412-343-3111), our Development and Finance Administrator, with any questions you may have or to donate with a credit card.

We hope you can join us in celebration of the sun, our light, our community, and the justice we hope to provide for our people.

Also, we need some of your help with our Campamento Sonrisa this summer:


We are looking for 7 volunteers, with some Spanish language ability, to be assistant counselors for our camp, at our Beechview location.  Dates are July 22 through Aug. 15, Monday – Thursday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.  There will be 25 kids, with special activities planned all over the city – ball games, swimming, hiking, museums, etc.  For more information, contact Sister Valerie at

Finally, we need some people with vans to help move a lot of donated furniture on Thursday, May 23, to go to needy families.  Please contact Laura at if you can do this.

How to take action:

Our elected officials have crucial roles in determining how our city and state treat immigrants, and everything else, so we encourage everyone who can vote to make their voices heard.  Please VOTE in the primary on Tuesday, May 21.

  • Check your voter registration status and polling location at
  • Find out about the candidates in your district with this Voter Guide. (You have to be registered in a party to vote in the primary election.)

Jose with tuba

News on what we’re doing:

Welcome to our new Youth Program Coordinator, Jose María Ochoa!  José was born in the state of Georgia, moved to Mexico at a young age and was raised there, and then came back to the US 6 years ago.  He began to get involved with the Pittsburgh’s Latino community through music, culture, and protest, focusing on musical education for youth from oppressed backgrounds.  At Casa, he is running our summer camps, our “SOY” (Support Our Youth) program, and “Jovenes con Proposito”, our after school program for teens. He brings to Casa his deep understanding of the experience of immigration, and his enthusiasm for broadening the horizons of our youth.  Here he is playing his favorite instrument.

The MayDay 2019: Justice for All Workers March and Celebration was a huge success, attracting crowds who cheered for workers’ rights and danced to the music through the streets of Squirrel Hill. Casa was an organizing sponsor and an enthusiastic participator. (Thanks to Grace Muller for photos!)

Mayday Monica marchingMayday Vero and PilarMayday Fernanda

Mayday Ibania

Hurray for the Door-knocking Campaign (which will hold one more canvass on June 22 – see here for info.) We held two canvasses in March and April to educate the community on immigrants’ rights and map out safe zones for immigrants. Over 100 volunteers knocked on 1,804 doors, committing 210 households and businesses to our “Zona de Respaldo.” Each participating house/business put up a poster in their window with Know-Your-Rights and emergency response information in English and Spanish. They committed to sharing it, and responding when immigrants or people of color are targeted in their community. Over this time, we also prepared community leaders to host eight dinners that trained 56 immigrants in Know-Your-Rights. This project was done with the support of PICC (Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition) and the approval and leadership of community members.

Helping community members with their lives and integration goes on daily in our Beechview and East Liberty locations.  Recent emphasis has been on getting new arrivals vaccinated, learning English, enrolling children in our summer camp, and locating affordable housing.

Speaking out:  Casa San Jose was asked to share in a Seder Meal at Rodef Shalom with a special theme of honoring the strength and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers across the globe.  Sister Janice spoke to the participants and Alma Brigido shared her story of immigration.   On May 4th at a Battle of Homestead Foundation event, Monica spoke on a panel entitled “Family Separation at the Border: Its Impact on Pittsburgh”.  She also was a panelist at the YWCA’s “Immigrant Justice is Racial Justice” event on April 26.

Monica at YWCA

Our story, continued:

Pam Harding, one of Casa’s Amigos, tells about her recent volunteer experience at the Oscar Romero Hospitality House, a way-station for immigrants recently arrived in El Paso:

M. Maldonado was waiting to be seen at the medical clinic at the Oscar Romero hospitality house, when I first met him. He patiently sat there with his 7-year-old daughter, appearing exhausted and ill, as did his daughter. I had recently arrived at the Oscar Romero House in El Paso, Texas, to volunteer for two weeks. I was assigned to the medical clinic, having worked as a Physician Assistant.

The facility, under the auspices of Annunciation House, provided food, lodging, clothes and care for those who had traveled more than a thousand miles by foot, truck and bus. Most were from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. All were asylum seekers who had been processed by the authorities. Almost all were family units, though many had left wives and children at home, hoping one day to be reunited with them. All were fleeing abject, unending, poverty or drug cartels that had threatened or killed loved ones.

M. Maldonado felt awful. He was totally congested, with a headache, sore throat, cough. His eyes were burning, and his feet were so sore, it was painful for him to walk. He recounted a journey of three weeks from the western highlands of Guatemala. Food and water had been scarce. There had been no opportunity to change clothes, shoes or sandals.

Once he and other asylum seekers crossed the border, Border Patrol agents took their money, and medicines, (including insulin and hypertensive meds.) He and others had their passports and birth certificates taken as well.  For extra measure, all had to remove their shoelaces.

M. Maldonado was then processed by ICE, an ankle bracelet placed on his leg (for tracking purposes). He and his daughter were placed in a holding cell with many others, including toddlers and babies. Known as “la hielera”, or “the cooler”, authorities turned down the thermostat as low as possible, “freezing” those inside.

After leaving the holding cell, he and his daughter were then sent to another “holding area”, this time under a bridge, where for three nights they slept on rocks with little protection from the elements. It fell to 33 degrees at night. There was a dust advisory. The water they were offered had so much “cloro”, chlorine, in it, it burned their lips and throats.

Oscar Romero staff had been advised by ICE they would be dropping off 60 asylum seekers, including M. Maldonado and his daughter.  They were welcomed at the center, showered, given clean clothes and linens, food and medical attention. Contact was made with their contact person. Bus tickets were purchased. M. Maldonado and his daughter left for Virginia, where a friend of a friend lives.

He has a date to appear in court. It may take years to process his asylum claim. It will most likely be denied, and he will be sent back to the highlands of western Guatemala.

(Here is updated information about volunteering opportunities at Annunciation House and its affiliates.)

Learn more:

Press coverage of Casa’s Doorknocking Campaign!  “Local advocacy group creates ‘support zones’ to educate undocumented immigrants on their rights”, Ryan Deto, Pittsburgh CityPaper, May 8.

“Donald Trump’s Rose Garden immigration speech, explained”, Dara Lind, Vox, May 16.

“Before Trump’s purge at DHS, top officials challenged plans for mass family arrests”, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, May 13.

“ICE provides local police a way to work around sanctuary policies, act as immigration officers”, Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, May 6.

Last month we included an NPR piece on the general conditions in Central America impelling their citizens to flee.  This article in the NYT conveys their immediacy and terror firsthand:  “Inside gang territory in Honduras:  ‘Either they kill us or we kill them'”, Azam Ahmed, New York Times, May 4.

“We are not invisible:  Latina girls, mental health, and the Philadelphia schools”, National Women’s Law Center, April 15.

Thank you for joining us!


Join us on June 28th for our Annual Fiesta Del Sol!

Fiesta del sol image1

Last year, we joined our brothers and sisters all over Latin America in observance and celebration of Inti Raymi, a traditional festival and ceremony in honor of the sun and the abundance it brings to our lives. This year, Casa San José is hosting our second annual Fiesta Del Sol, in celebration of our community’s light and in honor of our cultural traditions.

Since 2013, Casa San José has worked tirelessly with and for the community to ensure that our people have the resources and information they need to thrive. As you all know, Casa San José is small. We are run by our community and uplifted by our allies. We have many volunteers that help build the foundation of our Casa, and we have our donors who plant the seeds to allow us to do this work. With that: we thank you and hope you can help us grow as a Casa.

Join us at our annual fundraiser!
Friday, June 28th
6PM: The Flashlight Factory
831 W. North Ave, Pittsburgh 15233

where we’ll have traditional foods from all over Latin America, inspiring music and traditional dancing, in addition to a silent auction and much more! 
Buy your ticket here.

You can also make donations, either in cash or in gift cards, gift certificates, food, drinks, or anything else for the auction basket!  Here is our donation form.

We are also seeking event sponsors. Here is a list of descriptions of our suggested sponsorship levels, and here is the Sponsorship Form to complete.

Please feel free to contact Sister Karen (,
412-343-3111), our Development and Finance Administrator, with any questions you may have or to donate with a credit card.

We hope you can join us in celebration of the sun, our light, our community, and the justice we hope to provide for our people.

With love and solidarity,
Monica and the team at Casa San José

Fiesta del sol image4