Tuesday, July 25, 2017

News for Amigos de Casa San José: July 25, 2017


Dear Casa San José Amigos,
Welcome back to our weekly message!  Here’s what’s new:

Your help is much needed:
  • Please support us as a sponsor of the fall fundraiser, ¡Que Viva Clemente!, which will honor Casa San José as the recipient, and which will be held on October 7 by the LCLAA at City of Asylum on the North Side. Funds from this were instrumental last year in hiring Monica as our community organizer, and this year will expand our organizing and outreach.  Ad rates and instructions are here, and more information about the event can be found in this letter from Sister Janice and Julian.  Deadline for the ad request is August 25.  This could be from an individual or an organization. Thank you so much for making our work possible!
  • Here's an Amazon Wish List from our youth coordinators:  Casa San José is throwing a Back to School Bash (Bad and Boujee, the kids call it) on August 18.  Both of our youth groups will get together to celebrate going back to school in style. We are asking the kids to dress up and have fun for the last day of summer. Below you will find our Wish List for the party. If you think of anything else don't be afraid to add it in. Thanks, Jeimy and Fernanda  - http://a.co/8MX2oRq.
Political action:
  • New feature: "They are here illegally.  Why can't they just follow the rules?"  We've found that variations on this question come up often in discussions with people and legislators who oppose immigrant rights.  So we would like to to offer some talking points in response, one each week.  This week:
  • Reminder: upcoming workshops on Supporting Immigrant Rights in Your Community.  Learn how Pittsburgh supports immigrant rights and where your state legislator stands - what the issues are and how to work for productive solutions. Events are hosted by Casa San José, the Thomas Merton Center, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. (Library locations are here.)
    • Tuesday, August 1st, Homewood Library, 6-8 pm
    • Thursday, August 3rd, Beechview Library, 6-8 pm
    • Thursday, August 10th, Mt. Washington Library, 6-8 pm
“Our Story” episode 13: “A staff profile"

Our newest staff member, Pilar Caballero Garman, started a few weeks ago.  She came to
Casa San José first as a volunteer, but that lasted only a week when she applied for the newly opened position of Service Coordinator (when Julian became Executive Director) and was perfect for it. From Panama, where she grew up, she came to the US with her American husband and became a citizen. They lived for a while in Texas near the Mexican border before they moved to Mt. Lebanon with their two children. Her work has focused on helping people: in physical therapy, hospital service coordination, and as a translator. She is seeing daily through her work at Casa, "how many Latinos struggle here," and appreciates its "warm, genuine" atmosphere and concern for people rather than numbers.  "No one has ever hugged me when I got a job before."

Suggested if you’d like to read or see more:
Thank you for joining us!









Tuesday, July 18, 2017

News for Amigos de Casa San José: July 18, 2017

Dear Casa San José Amigos,
Welcome back to our weekly message!  Here’s what’s new:

Sister Janice and Julian appeared on the front page of past Sunday's edition of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette!  It was chapter 3 of the paper's feature on Pittsburgh's Latino community, "Unsettled in America" by journalist Peter Smith and photographer Nate Guidry. This part focused on Casa San José and its staff: read the whole series here.

Our Grupo de Mujeres Latinas has been meeting over breakfast in Brookline every Saturday morning, with speakers and lively discussion about nutrition, politics, fiber arts, relationships, depression and women's health.  Childcare is provided.  Even in crisis, life goes on.

Your help is much needed:
  • Carwash for a Cause, 2 more this week: please help our Latino youth attend the next Harrisburg convening and training workshop of the PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition AND get your car clean and shiny again. This 
    • Thursday, July 20, noon to 6, 2957 Banksville Rd., Banksville
    • Saturday, July 22, 10 to 4, Busy Beaver, 2940 Library Rd., Castle Shannon
  • We would appreciate any donations of these items for our Back to School party on August 18 for our kids ages 7-18:  plates, cups, silverware, napkins, paper towels, party favors, snacks, drinks, round tablecloths, raffle baskets and toys. Just drop them off at our office at 933 Brookline Blvd., M-F, 9-5.  Questions? Email Jeimy at jeimy@casasanjose.org.
Political action:
  • Show your welcome to immigrants and refugees by displaying a beautiful free sign or poster, designed by local artist Bob Ziller and produced by local organization The Sprout Fund in its "Belonging" project.  Please come and pick one up at our office, 933 Brookline Blvd. or at the Sprout Fund, 5423 Penn Ave. - weekdays 9-5.
  • Save the dates: upcoming workshops on Supporting Immigrant Rights in Your Community.  Learn how Pittsburgh supports immigrant rights and where your state legislator stands - what the issues are and how to work for productive solutions. Events are hosted by Casa San José, the Thomas Merton Center, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. (Library locations are here.)
    • Tuesday, August 1st, Homewood Library, 6-8 pm
    • Thursday, August 3rd, Beechview Library, 6-8 pm
    • Thursday, August 10th, Mt. Washington Library, 6-8 pm
“Our Story” episode 13: “More about Pierre” 
You may remember that last week we told the story of Pedro and Pierre - who became friends at the Erie Detention Center and were released a few weeks ago.  Pierre - after a desperate journey, much of it on foot, from Haiti to Brazil, other countries in South America, California, and Pennsylvania, was ultimately granted asylum status. He is now staying with Pedro in Pittsburgh until he finds a job and a new home.  He is no longer under threat of deportation and is getting help from local organizations.

Last week at Casa, Pierre came to the office to get help making a phone call to Haiti. Tracy Medrano, former Casa staff member who was there, tells it this way:  "After many months without communication with his family he called his sister and mother. He sat in the crowded office of Casa San Jose quietly communicating between Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, Portuguese and English  His mother, he says, is blind and thought him dead when she heard he was in the detention center. After gathering information from his sister about her location, he finally connected with his mother. "It's me, Mom. It's me." he said in French.  I could not help but wonder if those words were also for himself: It is me, I have survived! Then with his eyes tearing up from emotion and the cry of his mother audible from the phone, he lowered his gaze and spoke quietly; finally, a moment of intimacy with his mother. And now, he awaits quietly for the next step, for the continuous struggle of the immigrant spirit, humble, strong and indestructible."

Suggested if you’d like to read or see more:
Thank you for joining us!




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

News for Amigos de Casa San José: July 11, 2017

Dear Casa San José Amigos,
Welcome back to our weekly message!  Here’s what’s new:


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sunday edition has begun a 5-part front page feature on Pittsburgh's Latino community, "Unsettled in America" by journalist Peter Smith and photographer Nate Guidry.  Casa San José and its staff and work are highlighted throughout.  It's illuminating and moving - and you can read it here.

Your help is much needed:
  • Carwash for a Cause: Help our Latino youth attend the next Harrisburg convening and training workshop of the PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition AND get your car clean and shiny again AND treat yourself to some great tacos!  This Thursday, July 13, noon to 8 p.m., at Las Palmas IGA, 1616 Broadway Ave, Beechview neighborhood.  Also the following Thursday, July 20, noon to 6 p.m., 2957 Banksville Rd.
Casa San José has a new organizational structure. Sister Janice Vanderneck has opted to be the new Director of Civic Engagement, and Julián Alonso González Asenjo is now the new Executive Director after having been both a Casa board member and service coordinator.  Board chair Jackie Abel-Stavropoulos says, “Casa San José is blessed to have compassionate leaders and passionate advocates.” More details are in our press release and in Julián's personal statement.

And check out our new website - casasanjose.org - thanks to the generous and expert work of volunteers Daniel Sun and Ignacio Arana Araya.

An excellent profile just came out out in NextPittsburgh on Sister Janice's and Casa's work "on the front line of helping Pittsburgh’s Latino families." 

Political action:
“Our Story” episode 12: “Pedro and Pierre” 
  • On July 3, Pedro (not his real name,) a client of Casa, brought his new friend Pierre (also not his real name) into our office to get some help correcting a document.  They had met and become friends in the York County Prison. Here’s the back story:
  • Pedro:  Having come from Mexico, he has been in Pittsburgh for about 10 years, and lives with his wife and 3 children, ages 14, 8, and 5.  He has no criminal record whatsoever – not even a parking violation -  and works for an American employer as a landscaper.  About a month ago, ICE personnel, dressed as police officers, came to the house where he was working with 3 other immigrants and arrested them all.  His phone was confiscated, he wasn’t allowed to call his wife, and he was taken first to a federal prison, where he spent weeks in limbo, with no contact with his family, and sharing a cell with someone accused of murder.  He was then transferred to the York County Prison, an ICE facility in PA, where some months later, with the assistance of his concerned employer who signed a guarantee for him, and after having somehow raised $5000 for bail and another $800 for a lawyer, he was released on bond pending a court date.  He is back with his family here but there is little hope that he can stay.  His wife can’t even accompany him to court for fear of being arrested herself.
  • Pierre:  He fled Haiti and came to the US after promised jobs in Brazil evaporated; he speaks fluent French and Haitian Creole as well as some English, Spanish and Portuguese. He was picked up by ICE as well and taken to the York County Prison, where he befriended Pedro.  But he was the lucky one – after some time there, he was granted asylum, meaning that he can now live in the US legally, and was released a few weeks after Pedro, on June 23.  He was basically just put out on the street in York: he had no place to go, and no way to figure out how to live. His only contact was with Pedro – and somehow he got in touch.  Pedro immediately invited him to stay with him here in Pittsburgh, and came to Casa right away to get help buying him a Greyhound ticket – which is enormously complicated without a phone, an account, a credit card, and not much English.  Pierre is now staying with Pedro’s family, and is getting help from Casa and from Jewish Family & Children’s Service in finding a job and getting integrated into life in Pittsburgh. 
  • Postscript, an act of creative generosity:  One of our Amigos asked his grown children, in place of a Father’s Day gift, to make a donation to support 5 families who have missed their own Dad through arrest or deportation.  They provided 5 cards with $50 each to Casa to distribute to those families.  One is going to Pedro’s family.
Suggested if you’d like to read or see more:
  • Don’t be put off by this title: Only mass deportation can save America – in this piece New York Times columnist Bret Stephens strikingly and entertainingly proves that immigrants are our most valuable and needed inhabitants. The statistical comparison to “complacent, entitled” long-time citizens is compelling – and will give you good arguments for Republican legislators.
Clarification:In our Amigos message of June 13th we stated " Casa San Jose will be holding a Listening Session with our immigrant community to answer questions about their legal rights, welfare of children, and best practices."  We were in error to have used that description because we did NOT include answering questions about immigrant legal rights.  We will be sure to more correctly describe the content of our workshops going forward.

Thank you for joining us!




Monday, June 19, 2017

News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 20, 2017


Dear Casa San José Amigos,
Welcome back to our weekly message!  Here's what's new:

The Casa San José Summer Newsletter is here!  Please see the attachment below. It has more in-depth content and beautiful pictures than we can include in our messages - we hope you enjoy it.

Upcoming events that invite your attendance:
Suggested if you’d like to read more:
Now that summer is here, and we'll be going on a message break for a few weeks - we'll be back after July 4. Let's all celebrate Independence Day by seeking liberty and justice for all!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 13, 2017

Hóla Casa San Jose Amigos,

Your help is still needed:

 
Casa San Jose will be holding a Listening Session with our immigrant community to take questions about their rights, welfare of children, and best practices.  This will be on Sunday, June 18, St. Catherine's Church, 1810 Belasco Avenue, Beechview, around 2 pm (after Mass.)  We are in need of volunteers who would be able to help serve refreshments and play games with the children.  If you are able to help, please email Sister Valerie at 
srvalerie@casasanjose.org.
 
Volunteers and attendees are needed for a teach-in on June 17 sponsored by a number of organizations including Casa San Jose:  
Building Unity Against Hate:  How the prison industrial complex impacts our communities; what we can do to change it - Saturday June 17 10:00AM-1:00PM, United Steelworkers, 60 Blvd. of the Allies, downtown.
Call for Volunteers:
  • Set-up/Clean-up
  • Refreshments committee
  • Note taking
  • Outreach-help us spread the word about this event-help design or distribute fliers, share links with your networks, etc.
  • Interpretation/ translation (Spanish-English
Resources and more teach-in details at the Website and Facebook event page .  Please email your availability and interests to pghrights@riseup.net
 
 
Political action:
 
We are looking for people to attend this public meeting: 
Public Transportation is Not a Checkpoint - Don't Criminalize Transit Riders!  June 15, Liberty Room, Human Services Bldg., 1 Smithfield St, downtown.  
This summer, Port Authority plans to have armed police officers checking fare payment on the T.  We believe that this will intimidate and racially profile immigrants who are already being harassed by ICE, as well as all people of color.  We demand that the Port Authority delay implementation of this policy until we have a public process, a commitment not to work with ICE, and no arrests or criminal charges for "fare evasion."  Coordinated by Casa San Jose, Pittsburghers for Public Transit, Thomas Merton Center, and the Alliance for Police Accountability.

World Refugee Day and Immigrant Heritage Month are here!  Two items:





Inline image 1HB28, Rep. Martina White's anti-sanctuary city bill, is scheduled IMMINENTLY for a decision in the House State Government Committee to move it to the House floor for a final vote.  Let's flood the Committee members (especially the chair) with calls and emails to let them know they should NOT allow this bill to move forward! It would punish “sanctuary municipalities” (Pittsburgh would count even though it’s not calling itself that) by holding them liable for damages caused by any criminal activity of unauthorized immigrants, and would require city law enforcement to report anyone they suspect of being undocumented to federal immigration authorities.  For talking points, see this handout from the PICC website.


Our story, episode 11: “Jeimy’s travels”
 
Jeimy Sanchez Ruíz, Casa San José’s Youth Coordinator, just returned from a research trip to El Salvador and Guatemala. She was accompanied by her fellow researcher at Carlow University, Renee Driscoll, and also Father Bernard Survil, after having raised the funds for the trip through GoFundMe. (Thank you to those who contributed!) The purpose was to gather the stories of men who had come to the United States without documents, and had then returned to their villages or towns.  Jeimy, Renee and Father Bernard traveled deep into rural areas, and in some cases gang-infested zones, and interviewed 12 immigrants as well as people in the nonprofit and religious organizations that work to help them.  Last week Jeimy gave an hour-long talk about their tri
p.  The brief summary is that it was filled with painful and moving stories of desperate peopletrying to find a way out of poverty and violence for their families.
 
There were agonizing journeys crossing deserts, with no sleep, water, food, clothing, or even air.  They experienced extortion, exploitation, and human trafficking along the way; and rejection, hostility and loneliness on arrival.
 They arrived owing many thousands in debt to the "coyotes" who got them here, taking about a year of work to repay.  They are heartsick about missing their families, and often return just to see them again.  Other stories like this have been documented in print and video, but Jeimy told us how hearing the stories in person was eye-opening and revealed much about the immigrants that live, work and go to school all around us, especially the youth.
Inline image 2
It was only a week after Jeimy got back that she was asked to go on another journey: to accompany 5-year-old Alex to visit his father Martín Esquivel Hernandez in Mexico.  Martín, who friends of Casa San José know from the intense but ultimately unsuccessful community efforts to stop his deportation, is now far away from his family in Pittsburgh, which also includes his wife Alma and two daughters.  He hasn’t seen any of them in months.  Alex is the only one with a US passport, having been born here, so he was able to travel to spend the summer with his father, but at his young age, only if someone was able to escort him. The photo shows their emotional reunion in the airport. Jeimy came back the next day, and on the way she was held back, searched,
and questioned twice about the reason for her trip, and why it was so short.  She told the authorities:  it was because she was escorting a young child whose Dad had been deported.
 
 Suggested if you’d like to read or see more:
  • Powerpoint presentation of Jeimy's trip
  • Immigrants are propping up the Pittsburgh metro area population, from the Pittsburgh City Paper, June 7, 2017
  • Immigration agents came for our student – “Claudia is the face of immigration enforcement under the Trump administration. Under current executive guidelines, any immigrant suspected of a crime, even if never arrested, charged, or convicted, has become a priority for deportation. Basic due process, such as the right to know the charges and evidence against you, is absent in the immigration system. This policy has led to a 32% increase in immigrant detentions in the first three months of Trump’s presidency compared with the same time last year, and a 100% increase in the detention of people with no criminal record or with only minor traffic infractions.”  From the LA Times, June 8, 2017
  • Movie Romero (1989) starring Raul Julia, that recounts the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who was murdered as he took a stand against social injustice and oppression – and gives background and insight into the violence happening there today.
Thank you for joining us.

News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 5, 2017

Hóla Casa San José Amigos,

We’re opening this message with another episode from Our Story, because it’s very special this week.

Our story, episode 10:  “Bartolo”
This story is especially meaningful to Casa San Jose, not only because it is about the beloved foster son of Monica Ruíz, our Community Organizer, and friend of former staff member Grace Muller. It has also captured international attention through the journalists at Public Radio International’s The World (broadcast in Pittsburgh every weeknight at 8 on NPR-WESA radio.)  We heard it on June 1, and it is available and best told here.  Please read and/or listen!
                                                                       

Your help is still needed:

Casa San Jose will be holding a Listening Session with our immigrant community to answer questions about their legal rights, welfare of children, and best practices.  This will be on Sunday, June 18, St. Catherine's Church, 1810 Belasco Avenue, Beechview, around 2 pm (after Mass.)  We are in need of volunteers who would be able to help serve refreshments and play games with the children.  If you are able to help, please email Sister Valerie at srvalerie@casasanjose.org.

Political action:

Please attend this public meeting: Public Transportation is Not a Checkpoint - Don't Criminalize Transit Riders!  June 15, Liberty Room, Human Services Bldg., 1 Smithfield St, downtown.
(We’ve discussed this issue before, but this is the first meeting we’ve sponsored.) This summer, Port Authority plans to have armed police officers checking fare payment on the T.  We believe that this will intimidate and profile immigrants who are already being harassed by ICE.  We demand that the Port Authority delay implementation of this policy until we have a public process, a commitment not to work with ICE, and civil (not criminal) procedure for "fare evasion."  Coordinated by Casa San Jose, Pittsburghers for Public Transit, Thomas Merton Center, and the Alliance for Police Accountability.

PICC (Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition) is focusing on tuition equity this month– which refers to the great disadvantages facing undocumented youth who want a college education.  Under current PA law, undocumented students cannot establish Pennsylvania residency for higher education regardless of how long they have lived in the state, and therefore must pay out-of-state tuition rates. They are also excluded from state financial aid. Rep. Peter Scheyer in the PA House introduced HB1042, the Pennsylvania Tuition Fairness Act to correct this inequity, and is looking for co-sponsors.  Please contact your PA legislator in the House (find them here) to ask that they be a co-sponsor, and to show your support.  Good talking points are given here.

Did you know you can also find and contact your elected representatives directly through Facebook?  Even easier!


More news:

Our Youth Community Organizer, Jeimy Sanchez-Ruíz, has won the 2017 Catherine Graham Servant Leader Award at Carlow University. ¡Felicitaciones, Jeimy!

In April, 1,470 economists, including many Nobel Prize winners, wrote an open letter to the President and congressional leaders emphasizing the great value that immigrants bring to our country, and urging them to fix the immigration system so that it reflects “the rich history of welcoming immigrants to the United States.”  Thank you to the professors from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and Duquesne University who signed it. (Listed in this link to the letter.)


Suggested if you’d like to read or hear more:

An Underground College for Undocumented Immigrants from The New Yorker, May 22, tells the moving story of two sisters, having grown up in the suburbs of Atlanta, and their determined and difficult fight to get a college education.

Faces of Migration, from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, each week shares inspiring and moving stories of people who have come to the US to flee violence and poverty and pursue hopes and dreams, and who have made significant impacts on their communities.



Thank you for joining us.

News for Amigos de Casa San José: July 25, 2017

Dear Casa San José Amigos, Welcome back to our weekly message!  Here’s what’s new: Your help is much needed: Please support us as a sp...