Dear Partners, Supporters, and Friends,
We hope this letter finds you and yours well during this uncertain time. We in the CASA family want to extend our best wishes to everyone during this unprecedented pandemic – our first value as an organization is solidarity, and times like these underline just how much we need one another. In that spirit, we wanted to take this opportunity to share with you not only the actions and steps CASA is taking to support our communities and members during this crisis, but also the critical interventions we are advocating the federal government take immediately to reduce the suffering due to COVID-19 and to prevent further spread of the disease.
The health, security and safety of our community is always our top priority. In accordance with CDC and local authorities’ recent guidance, the CASA family will activate telework for all staff effective tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17th for at least two weeks. Although CASA is suspending in-office services, we are reorganizing and doubling down to ensure that all of our members have access to online, telephone, and texting assistance as detailed below.
CASA continues to closely monitor the impact of COVID-19 during this period of public health crisis. We also know it is precisely at times like these that the community needs us most. We will continue to be a vital resource for information, support, education, work/jobs and guidance throughout this period in which all of those resources may be limited and more difficult to access. The situation is fluid and our work may shift. We are planning for all contingencies and will be updating our website and social media accounts to provide constant updates. At this time:
- All large gatherings will be suspended until further notice. This includes clinics, events, ESOL instruction, and citizenship classes held at CASA and other locations. All of our students are receiving personal calls from program staff and we are sharing online educational resources so that they can continue learning during this time at home.
- Our youth program participants will receive constant calls throughout the school closures to assess their needs, provide case management and virtual homework support, and other educational resources. Additionally, we are monitoring local school system developments to ensure that kids have access to free healthy meals and any additional resources they may need.
- CASA’s legal, health, citizenship, financial and education services will be provided by appointment and largely by telephone. Anyone that already had an in-person appointment with CASA will be getting their needs met by telephone and we will provide many additional people with services through an aggressive trilingual health and social services hotline.
- Worker Center operations will continue, although employment opportunities will be dispatched remotely as we work to ensure we take the necessary precautions to safeguard the health of our staff and members. CASA Worker Centers are the only source of income for many of our members and as such, it is our priority to keep these programs accessible for as long as it is safe and prudent to do so.
- CASA Organizers and canvassing staff will shift to conducting outreach and community engagement by telephone and text. All CASA members (100,000+ strong), people who have signed census pledge cards, and more will be receiving personal calls and texts to confirm that they are doing well and, of course, to make sure they respond to the census! In addition, staff are working with our organizing committees to form mutual aid networks to ensure that people can access the support they need.
CASA is dedicated to the well-being of our staff and their families. We provide some of the most generous benefits and leave policies in the region and proudly partner with our unionized staff for solutions to the crises confronting our members. Because of that earned trust and partnership structure, we feel strongly that we are well placed to continue providing services to our community, on a modified schedule, in a manner that is the least disruptful and most helpful given the situation
CASA is confident in our ability — with your support — to mount a robust and effective response for our members, staff, and community during this time. But this pandemic goes far beyond CASA’s ability to respond alone. To that end, we are advocating, for the sake of our members’ lives and livelihoods, that our Federal government take immediate and extraordinary actions to address this health, economic, and family crisis. In coalition with our national partners, Working Families Party and the Center for Popular Democracy, CASA is strongly urging that the administration work with Congress to do the following:
- Ensure that our most vulnerable are safe and secure: Impose a moratorium on deportations, evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs; all emergencies which force people to relocate in contrast to the best public health advice, which is to simply remain at home. Release all people being confined pre-trial on nonviolent offenses to prevent the spread of the virus among a vulnerable population confined to close quarters. Halt immigration enforcement and empty the detention centers.
- Provide free coronavirus testing for all: To control the spread of coronavirus, the administration must ensure that all Americans who need an evaluation are able to access locations for cost-free testing.
- Take necessary steps to avoid an economic recession: Pass a one trillion dollar federal investment package targeted towards working people, small businesses, and state and local services. Now is not the time to bail out investment firms. Provide immediate and direct cash aid to working families to help them stay afloat.
- Defend Democracy: Provide nationwide emergency vote by mail, online voting, automatic voter registration, and other measures to make sure people can vote in the midst of a pandemic. Waive petitioning requirements for political campaigns, so that canvassers don’t have to go knocking on doors to get their candidate on the ballot.
- Provide an additional $142 billion in emergency funding to: increase hospital and clinical capacity and invest in nursing home and senior community preparedness; provide protections for frontline workers and ensure that ALL workers receive paid sick leave; enhance unemployment benefits for those that qualify and expand access to food programs so none go hungry; and ensure treatment for all including the millions of uninsured immigrants in this country who contribute every day to our economy.
There is so much unknown and unknowable about this crisis, but CASA has seen our communities through crises before and we know we will rise to the challenge. The unfortunate reality is that our members have lived a lifetime confronting uncertain dangers and fearful odds. The challenges our members face every day do not go away during this crisis – they are only amplified by the difficulty of this unprecedented global pandemic. This is why CASA must be and will be strong and steadfast throughout this crisis. We will deploy resources, expertise, and care to see our communities through.
We are thankful to be in a relationship with you as we face this together. If you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas to share with us on how we can approach our work through this crisis, please contact us.
Gustavo Torres, Executive Director
Yasmin Viera, Assistant Director of Development
To create a more just society by building power and improving the quality of life in working-class and immigrant communities.
We envision a future where we stand in our own power, our families live free from discrimination and fear, and our diverse communities thrive as we work with our partners to achieve full human rights for all.