Family Separation at the Border: Its Impact on Pittsburgh, a “Welcoming City”
Saturday, May 4 @ 1:30 pmFree
This program addresses the important role immigrants have played and continue to play in our nation’s history, culture, and work force. Historically, diverse immigrants from around the world provided the backbone of what our nation is today. This program will focus on the current U.S. immigration policy that makes it difficult for Central American immigrants to seek asylum in the U.S. Like other immigrants before them, today’s immigrants are searching for a better life, freedom from violence, and economic security. Although immigrants in the past were often encouraged to enter the U.S. legally and then become productive citizens, today many seeking this objective face insurmountable obstacles at the southern border. New questionable strict and constraining immigration rules (remember Zero Tolerance?) have built immense physical and emotional barriers. The result has forced many immigrants to be unwittingly detained, imprisoned, and deported. Meanwhile, without due process, approximately 5,000 children have been cruelly separated from their families, some perhaps permanently.
Addressing this immigration problem which has plagued our country and impacted Pittsburgh, a “Welcoming City,” will be Monica Ruiz, Executive Director of the Casa San Jose Center in Pittsburgh and Guillermo Perez, US Steel Labor Educator and Founder/President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Labor Council for Latin American Development.
Mr. Perez will speak about Pittsburgh immigration history and will focus on the present day issues of how labor is supporting migrants in adjusting to seeking asylum here in Pittsburgh. Ms. Ruiz will discuss how her organization aids immigrants in Western Pennsylvania and will address the challenges immigrants from Central America are faced when they cross the border and settle in Pittsburgh. She will focus on how her organization supports the Pittsburgh Latino community by providing social services, advocacy for Latino rights, protecting Latinos at risk of deportation and provides programs and special events. Both will offer opportunities and a call to action for those interested in supporting them and want to pursue a more active role in immigration concerns here in Pittsburgh.
Before joining the United Steelworkers Education & Membership Development Department as a labor educator in January of 2011, Guillermo Perez worked as a labor educator with the Civil Service Employees Association, AFSCME Local 1000, based in Albany, New York. He has worked as a trainer/recruiter with the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute and an organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Guillermo holds a Juris Doctor (JD) from the Illinois Institute of Technology, a Master’s in Communication from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor’s in English Literature from the University of Chicago. He currently serves on the national executive board of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and the executive board of Casa San José, a nonprofit welcome and resources center for Latino families in Pittsburgh. He is also the president and a founding member of the Pittsburgh chapter of LCLAA.
Monica Ruiz is the Executive Director at Casa San José. Monica has been working with the Latino community for over 15 years. Monica has been a powerful advocate for Latinos on legal, housing, development, and educational issues. She fights for those facing deportation proceedings and launches projects to assist women, youth and high school students. In addition, she partners with political, labor, religious, and law enforcement leadership to make Pittsburgh stronger and more welcoming to all. Monica earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in Psychology, and a Master’s degree in Social Work with a focus on Community Organizing and Social Action.