Member of the Month: Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP)
The Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh is a locally formed non profit incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania in 2012. It is known by the acronym BCAP. The Bhutanese community is comprised of a little over 5000 residents distributed in 10 different neighborhoods in Allegheny County (the greater Pittsburgh community). They are comprised of first settlers coming directly to Pittsburgh under the government’s refugee resettlement program as well as secondary migrants from other cities and states since 2008. Pittsburgh has been a welcoming city for Bhutanese refugees from other cities due to job prospects, low crime, affordable housing, good education and hospital care, and above all the friendly people, climate and topography.
BCAP serves the community through English language learning, civic education with the goal of gaining naturalization, the Parent-Child Cultural Club to encourage bilingualism, holistic yoga classes, women & girls leadership, youth activities, and much more. They also work with PICC and PA Voice to conduct civic engagement to encourage voter registration, voter trainings, and "Get Out the Vote" so that the Bhutanese community are engaged, active constituents in the Pittsburgh area. You can follow and support BCAP through their Facebook page.
Updates on the Supreme Court & Immigration
Following a January injunction by a California federal judge ordering the administration to reinstate DACA, Trump sought to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Last week, the Supreme Court said that they would not overturn the District Court's decision, throwing the decision back to the historically liberal 9th circuit court. What does this mean for DACA recipients? As of this moment, DACA renewals will be processed, but those seeking to apply for DACA for the first time are still unable to do so. What are the next steps? Once the 9th circuit makes its decision, the administration is likely to then appeal to the Supreme Court, but this will take several months. In the meantime, DACA remains in effect, allowing renewals to be processed.
In other Supreme Court news, the justices voted to repeal a decision of the 9th circuit court which said that immigrants in federal detention have the right to a bond hearing every 6 months they are in detention. Following the Supreme Court's decision, the case will next be reviewed by the 9th circuit to determine if holding immigrants without bond hearings is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court's decision only serves to bolster detention industries and increases profits for companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group. While the decision is ultimately up to the courts, we strongly believe this was the wrong decision and will continue to work with our member organizations to end indefinite detention and dismantle the deportation and detention machine.
March 5th DACA Deadline --> Actions!
Last Monday's Supreme Court decision to not take up the contentious DACA question, effectively upholding the reinstatement of DACA renewals, was a short-lived victory. In less than 24 hours that same court ruled that immigrants, including legal permanent residents and asylees, did not have a right to a bond hearing, leaving them to be detained indefinitely. We are at a crititcal moment right now and we must recognize that we need to stand together as a community and fight for legislation and policies at both the national and local level that respect the humanity of all immigrants and our right to a safe and dignified life.
Our president may have chosen March 5th as the arbitrary deadline to end the DACA program, trying to force Congress to "fix" it, but Pennsylvania has used this date as a time to celebrate and uplift immigrant communities and issues across the state. Thanks to our many members and partners, PICC members held several pro-immigrant, celebratory events from March 4th-5th to energize our communities and allies:
- Pittsburgh: On Sunday March 4th, a group of 60+ people gathered in our central Market Square, with leaders from the Latinx and AAPI communities sharing their stories, and the May Day Marching Band celebrating with us. Thank you to APALA, Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh, Casa San Jose, LCLAA, Pittsburgh United, Planned Parenthood, and Thomas Merton Center, and many more for your support! And of course, to our Dreamers, who created the beautiful butterflies we used during the rally. A good time was had by all as we celebrated our local immigrant communities in congress with our national movement! The unifying theme was solidarity between all immigrant communities regardless of their status, and with the Pittsburgh community at large.
- Harrisburg: In Harrisburg, dozens gathered outside the Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse to hold our elected representatives accountable for their refusal to stand up to the racist policies of the Trump administration. As one community leader exclaimed, "We know that there were many members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation who said they supported our Dreamers, but they did not stand with us when the time mattered. We will not forget." Rainy, a young leader from Make the Road Pennsylvania, added that, "We live in the land of the free, but we are not free when we have to hide because our families are under attack. It's all of us or none of us." Desi, a leader with MILPA, further decried the Trump policies, "We will not stand for a $28 billion wall we don't need." This event was organized by PICC, MILPA, CASA, and Make the Road Pennsylvania.
- Philadelphia: On Monday, March 5th, Philly gathered together for this message: "No type of walls should be erected around human rights. Human rights are wall-less or borderless global properties" said Eric Eddi, AFRICOM as he was joined by 40 + people that attended Philadelphia's March 5, Immigrant Rights are Human Rights Day of Action, many holding signs of support, chanting loudly and joining 2 community art projects by Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and Aquinas Center. "Show unity, stay resilient and strong, and remember we decide our lives- Immigrants are here to stay!", said PICC's deputy director Maria Sotomayor.
New Citizens = New Voters
New Americans are a growing voting block in the United States. Through citizenship promotion, voter registration, and turnout, PICC works to build immigrant electoral power and to address barriers to the civic participation of underrepresented immigrant communities. PICC is the only organization present at every naturalization ceremony in Philadelphia to register New Americans to vote. Thanks to our committed group of volunteers and Civic Engagement interns, we register to vote hundreds of New Americans every week, and are able to call them with needed information about polling locations and their rights at the polls before every election.
We are in constant need of new volunteers to help sustain our voter registration program. Citizenship ceremonies take place every week at USCIS in Philadelphia. Sign up today to volunteer and help New Americans register to vote! Alternatively, contact Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez, Statewide Capacity Building Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Darers & Dreamers Second Friday Exhibition
Fri Mar 9, 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Common Room Philly, 1509 N. Front St., Philadelphia PA 19122
Join us for a night of art inspired by immigration, border crossing, and undocumented young people! The Common Room is partnering with Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania and PICC to raise awareness about the 690,000 people in this country protected by the DACA program. There will be information on ways to take action, beer and snacks, and work from artists of the Philadelphia community.
More information and RSVP on Facebook.
U-Visa & VAWA Information Session & Free Immigration Legal Screening – Philadelphia
Mon Mar 12, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Esperanza College, 4261 N. 5th St., Philadelphia, PA
[Español abajo] You might be eligible for a U-Visa or VAWA if you are the victim of a series crime, including domestic violence, sexual assault, aggravated assault, trafficking, blackmail or extortion, and more. Come get information about eligibility and requirements, followed by a comprehensive legal for immigration relief. Cal 215-324-0746 to RSVP.
Es posible que sea elegible para una visa “U” o VAWA si ha sido victima de un delito grave, esto incluye: violencia domestica, abuso sexual o violacion, asalto agravado, trafico de personas, chantaje o extorsion, entre otros. Venga a obtener informacion sobre la elegibilidad y los requisitos, seguido de evaluaciones legales completas para remedios migratorios. Llame al 215-324-0746 para RSVP.
Hosted by Esperanza Immigration Legal Services & Ceiba
Know Your Rights/Conozca Sus Derechos – Southside Pittsburgh
Mon Mar 12, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Coro Pittsburgh, 26 South 27th St. Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Come learn about how to safely interact with police and ICE in your home, your workplace, your car, and in the street. Employers and employees are also invited to come learn about proper workplace rights. Interpretation in Spanish and Mandarin; childcare provided. Please contact email@example.com with any questions. Hosted by APALA, LCLAA, Restaurant Opportunities Center
Immigration Legal Clinic (Philadelphia)
Sat Mar 17, 3:00pm - 7:00pm
FUMCOG (Pilling Hall), 6001 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia
Do you have TPS? Come to learn if you qualify for some form of permanent immigration status or relief. Lawyers from Nationalities Service Center will conduct one-on-one legal screenings. For more information, call 215-439-5409 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hosted by AFRICOM, Nationalities Service Center, and HCP
Welcoming Schools Webinar - RESCHEDULED
This is a rescheduled date from February.
New date: Weds March 21
English: 6:30-7:30PM - Register online
En español: 8:00-9:00PM - Regsitrar por internet
[Español abajo] Learn how you can use the Welcoming Schools toolkit to pass resolutions and policies in your school district that will help protect immigrant and refugee families. You must register in order to participate.
Aprenda como usar nuestro “Welcoming Schools Toolkit” o “Kit de herramientas de Escuelas Acogedoras” para aprobar resoluciones y políticas en su distrito escolar que ayudarán a proteger a las familias inmigrantes y refugiadas.