Chapter 3

of Growth

In its 25-year history, CASA has never once stopped growing, and in 2021 this capacity reached new heights. Not only did our organization expand internally, but we broadened our community and deepened our impact with exponential growth in our national membership and by cultivating the seeds we sewed in Georgia. 2021 is the year CASA truly became a national organization.

From CASA Member to CASA Staff

Martha Hernandez A volunteer leader with CASA since our organization first arrived in Pennsylvania in 2014, Martha organized clinics at her church, performing rapid response.   During the 2018 voting rights campaign,Martha worked as a Promoter, and in 2019 was hired by CASA as an Organizer. In 2021, her career with CASA reached new heights as she was promoted to Lead Organizer in Pennsylvania.

Crisaly De Los Santos — A member of our Mi Espacio program for students when she first came to the US from the Dominican Republic, she learned English with CASA in ninth grade. Crisaly and her father became citizens through CASA’s assistance. From there, Crisaly became passionate and captivated by the movement and began to attend CASA rallies. After a short stint as a canvasser in Anne Arundel County for CASA’s c(4) sister organization, CASA in Action, during the 2018 elections, she has gone on to serve on CASA’s c(4) Board of Directors for two terms. In 2021, she deepened her membership in CASA’s staff community by joining us as a Community Organizer. In her own words, “CASA has given me the tools to grow as a leader and now as an organizer. I am extremely grateful to be part of the CASA family.”

Eduardo Zelaya Eduardo worked as a Promoter when CASA first started in Virginia in 2009, his first job in the United States. He was later hired as an oOrganizer in the Commonwealth. He now serves CASA’s communities as our Regional Lead.

Solidarity and Racial Justice

2020 was a year of reckoning in the United States following the righteous uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement following a string of brutal police murders of unarmed Black people including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. CASA, like many of our allies, took a hard look in the mirror at how we were showing up in the fight for racial justice and whether we had truly done enough to ensure that CASA was standing in solidarity with our Black siblings. That year saw the launch of the internal Black@CASA staff committee, a commitment to increase partnerships and collaboration with Black-led organizations, and several mobilizations of CASA members and staff for Black Lives Matter events. 

2021 saw those commitments go deeper as CASA began implementation of an organization-wide training and learning program focused on our diversity, equity, and inclusion work (DEI). Collectively, CASA staff engaged in more than 1000 hours of training and conversation around race, racism, colorism, and the history of institutional oppression. This work is not a one-off training project, but rather a series of trainings culminating in an organization-wide effort to reckon with racism, anti-Blackness, and colorism and how the attitudes and ideas of these toxic ideologies show up in the world around us, in our work, and in our organizations. This effort is ongoing and reflects an unshakable and unwavering commitment from CASA’s members, leaders, and staff to racial justice.

Showing Up, Doing the work

Police Accountability

One of two primary ways CASA found to show up in solidarity with Black-led organizations has been the fight for police accountability in Baltimore City. For generations, police in Baltimore and beyond have responded to Black pain and Black poverty with violence, incarceration, and ever more monitoring, even as communities are otherwise abandoned by public services. CASA is standing with our allies in ensuring that police in Baltimore City can no longer run roughshod over communities and their civil liberties.

CASA continued to serve as the convener of the Campaign for Justice, Safety and Jobs (CJSJ) and also worked with many CJSJ partners such as the ACLU of Maryland, Jews United for Justice, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and NAACP Statewide Conference,  to revamp and reconvene the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability (MCJPA), in order to ensure the enormous pressure needed to achieve police reforms in the 2021 state legislative session.

MCJPA included all 33 CJSJ member organizations, four of whom served on the 12-member MCJPA statewide steering committee. CASA and the ACLU led implementation of a retreat in September 2020 that brought an additional 60 organizations from across the state to engage in a participatory voting process to elect five top policing campaigns–four of which were won in the 2021 session!  

In March 2021, CJSJ joined forces with MCJPA and organized over 500 community members to Annapolis to call attention to our five police reform demands as legislators were at a standstill.  CJSJ mobilized more than 160 community members from Baltimore to action thanks to CASA and its partners joining forces to safely carpool participants to the action. During the event CASA led the safety routes and marshalling team, with over 500 people staging a die-in following the powerful testimonies of over a dozen mothers who lost their sons to police brutality.  The action was incredibly powerful and effective in bringing pressure on legislators.

CASA Rallies for Black Immigrants

Always seeking ways we can show up for racial justice, CASA has taken on a dedicated role in the fight for justice for Black members of the immigrant community. This has shown up most prominently in our ongoing struggle to win TPS for Cameroon. 

On February 10th, 2021, CASA gathered Black immigrant members for a powerful rally in DC, finding symbolic power in the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as members gathered in front of his memorial and spoke passionately about his work. 

Shortly after this rally, CASA joined a coalition of organizations urging the President to take action on TPS for Cameroon. CASA supported a bicameral letter led by U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Representative Anthony Brown, urging President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to designate Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) due to ongoing armed conflicts and increasingly severe violence in the country. As the members of Congress noted in their letter, deteriorating conditions and the humanitarian crisis in Cameroon require the U.S. government to take immediate action and grant protection to Cameroonians through TPS or DED. Thousands of CASA Members who are Cameroonian who would benefit tremendously from this status.

The lawmakers emphasize the urgency of the situation, stating: “Civilians in Cameroon are caught between multiple and complex armed conflicts between Anglophone separatists, the government, and Boko Haram (a jihadist terrorist group). Boko Haram in particular is known for their use of child soldiers in suicide bombings of crowded civilian areas, such as schools, markets, mosques, churches, and refugee camps. In its yearly human rights report on Cameroon, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. State Department have identified an extensive and troubling catalogue of human rights abuses against Cameroonian civilians, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, and targeted violence against vulnerable populations such as children and members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

“Conditions in Cameroon continue to worsen as violence continues and the pandemic continues to take its public health and economic toll. We call upon the administration to do its part to protect Cameroonians in the United States from deportation back to unsafe conditions by designating Cameroon for TPS or DED. We thank you for your consideration,” they conclude.

The letter was supported by African Communities Together, CASA, CASA in Action, Human Rights First, Immigration Hub, African Diaspora for Good Governance, African Public Affairs Committee, Alianza Americas, American Friends Service Committee, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Center for Victims of Torture, Central American Resource Center, Central American Resource Center, Church World Service, Family Action Network Movement, First Focus on Children, Haitian Bride Alliance, HIAS, Lawyers for Good Government, Adhikaar, Mauritanian Network for Human Rights in The US, National Association of Social Workers, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, Ohio Immigrant Alliance, Presbyterian Church (USA), U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), UndocuBlack Network, Union for Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, United Stateless, United We Dream, Venezolanos con Biden, Venezuelans and immigrants Aid, Inc., Yemeni American Merchants Association, and Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.

The fight for TPS for Cameroon continues in 2022.

Growing Movement, Growing Power, Growing CASA

Going National

In 2020, new rules were proposed by the Trump Administration that would severely limit asylum seekers’ ability to obtain work permits. The Trump rules would have allowed the government to take as long as it wanted (even years) to process asylum seekers’ work permit applications, force asylum seekers to wait more than twice as long to be eligible to apply for work permits, add new biometrics requirements and fees, bar many groups of asylum seekers from receiving work permits altogether, and impose other harmful changes. Along with our partners, CASA’s legal team launched a lawsuit to block the Trump rules from going into effect: CASA v. Mayorkas (originally called CASA v. Wolf).

On September 11, 2020, the court issued an order called a preliminary injunction. The court’s order blocked important parts of the Trump rules for two reasons. First, the court held that Chad Wolf was likely serving unlawfully as the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, meaning that he did not have the power to issue the rules. Second, the court held that the government had likely failed to weigh the harm of the rules, consider less harmful alternatives to the rules, or give the public a full opportunity to comment on the rules.

Under the court’s order, members of CASA de Maryland can generally apply for work permits 150 days after applying for asylum, do not have to pay the new $85 biometrics fee, and are entitled to have the government process their work permit applications within 30 days, among other benefits. With the judge ruling narrowly that it was specifically members of CASA who were eligible for this specific form of relief, it became an immediate moral imperative for CASA to open up membership to the immigrant community nationwide to ensure people could get justice. 

The result was a massive influx of new CASA members joining us from all corners of the US.

National Membership Numbers

CASA initiated a major drive for our National Membership in 2021 in 46 states and the District of Columbia, as can be seen below:

One of our National Members from Guatemala, living in Missouri, gave written testimony about ICE Detention Centers to be included in CASA’s Federal Policy launch this year. Additionally, two of our National Members were elected to CASA’s leadership council in 2021. Both living in Texas, they are from Nigeria and Nicaragua. Both were Lawyers before coming to the USA as asylum seekers.

CASA National Membership’s places of origin are extremely diverse, and includes members from: 






















A powerful network of allies fighting for justice

Coordinated by CASA and our c(4) sister organization, CASA in Action, the CASA Ally Network of supporters is committed to supporting immigrant, Latinx, and working-class communities by organizing, learning, and becoming stronger allies to the immigrant justice movement.

For the purposes of our Ally Network, CASA defines an ally as someone who embodies the principle “none of us are free until all of us are free” in their actions, words, and ideology. CASA allies support the goals and aspirations of CASA members and stand in solidarity with them. Allies give of their time, talent, and treasure to support the immigrant rights movement consistently and especially when called upon.

Importantly, an ally understands that they are supporters, not main actors, in the struggle, and their job is to amplify voices rather than replace them, stand with people rather than for them, so that the CASA community can be the author of its own liberation.

Rather, the opportunities members of CASA’s Ally Network have are to learn more about the issues, connect with CASA community members and organizers, and be the first in line to take action in support of immigrants and working-class communities.

The Ally Network is organized into chapters, with two chapters currently established in central metro Maryland. We are working towards creating a Pennsylvania, Virginia, and national chapter. The Ally Network meets four times a year, and allies receive a monthly newsletter that includes updates and action opportunities. Through the network, they also have access to future ally and supporter trainings and resources.

Whether you are new to the immigrant rights movement or well-versed, we would love to have you join CASA’s Ally Network. Visit CASA’s Ally Network to learn more and sign-up today!

Watch the recording of the Ally Network’s Year 2 Kick-off meeting:

CASA Ally Spotlight

Jennifer Hug

With the events surrounding the death of George Floyd, I was inspired to become a better ally to the BIPOC community. I joined the Baltimore chapter of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), which has several accountability partners in their fight for racial justice, including CASA. Then COVID hit, and CASA needed volunteers to distribute food to those in need. I love hands-on volunteering and showed up almost every Saturday to help. I was also becoming more involved with SURJ and learning even more about the struggles of Black and Brown folks, finding tangible ways to support our accountability partners in-person, virtually, and via donations. Then, the CASA Ally Network was created, and it was a logical step for me to join!

But why fight for immigrant justice? Because I believe that all people, no matter their background or skin tone, are human and deserve to be treated as such. The immigrant population has contributed so much to this nation, which was itself founded by immigrants. How can we overlook this underserved part of the population? These men, women, and children are denied the same rights, opportunities, and privileges as the rest of us, simply because of where they come from. We need to support and uplift each other until every man and woman is equal! This work is bigger than us all, so to be a member of the Ally Network means I am doing my small part towards the betterment of the lives of other human beings, immigrants.

CASA Supporter Spotlight

Conner Hoyt

CASA is an organization I have admired since my time as an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland. Their commitment to providing Latino immigrant families the resources they need to thrive in the United States is one I don’t take lightly. It is critically important that these families are given job training and placement; legal assistance; and other financial and language training to succeed once they’ve arrived.

I feel it is my responsibility to help organizations like CASA in the fight for Justice. This is why I founded bikingforjustice401, using the bike as an instrument of mobile protest in the fight for racial equity, and why in July 2021 I competed in a 65-mile bike, 15-mile run duathlon to raise money for CASA.

The duathlon proved to be an unforgettable experience. It was an extremely hot day and no amount of water would do the trick for me, so doubt certainly crept into my mind. I was hellbent on finishing though because it was quite literally the least I could do. As a stable path to citizenship hangs in the balance of the Build Back Better Act, it’s vitally important to loudly call for its inclusion in the bill. And the more we do things outside the norm that generate attention, the more we’ll continue moving people to action. Immigrants make our nation great in a multitude of ways, and it’s high time our laws reflect that. CASA is one of the loudest voices in the fight — one that is immensely worthy of our support.


CASA walks into its next fiscal year excited and proud to be expanding our services and nonpartisan political advocacy in the state of Georgia. The work of our c(4) sister organization, CASA in Action, was incredibly powerful and irreplaceable in creating the beachhead for the CASA family of organization’s expansion into Georgia through its partisan political work in the January, 2021 senate run-offs in the state. While outside the scope of this report, more information can be found here.

We’re looking forward to the stories we can tell next year!