October 21, 2021
At last night’s national groundbreaking event, sister organizations CASA and CASA in Action announced their official status as national organizations, with over 122,000 lifetime immigrant and working class members across 46 US states. Prior to expanding nationally, CASA and CASA in Action were recognized as the largest member-led immigrant rights organizations in the mid-Atlantic region.
Since its start in a Takoma Park church basement in 1986, CASA has grown into a powerful local organization in the DC-metro area, a Maryland staple known often and in many neighborhoods still as “CASA De Maryland.” Through the years, the organization finessed its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members. In 2013, and then again in 2016, as CASA moved into Virginia and into Pennsylvania, making CASA the region’s biggest organization advocating for immigrants.
“We are always building power for our 122,000 immigrant and working class members. Our challenges have gotten bigger, but our power has also grown. Continuing our organizing at the local, state, and national levels means thinking bigger and ultimately being bigger,” said Gustavo Torres, CASA executive director. “CASA membership has exploded, with new CASA members joining from around the country every single day. From Washington state to Washington, DC, CASA as a national organization can double down on its fight for immigrant justice and other national priorities.”
Membership-led, CASA has an extensive web of committees where members hash out the decisions about the organization’s priorities and strategies as well as who will represent them in CASA’s organization-wide Leadership Council, the primary decision making body for the organization. National members have joined this structure, with the first two representatives elected by our national membership to join members from VA, PA, and MD in guiding the organization’s national campaign priorities. CASA’s national members have already taken action – lobbying their members of congress and mobilizing to DC in support of a pathway to citizenship.
“CASA is something that is really behind my heart,” said CASA Member Michael from Texas. “They have the knowledge of what the immigrant is going through and have the aim to help every immigrant, taking the fight right to the government. I decided to become a member of CASA and there is no going back.”
Kicking off the announcement at the national groundbreaking event CASA Adelante were Senator Chris Van Hollen; Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott; and Oscar-winning filmmaker John Ridley; as well as board members Cecibel Henriquez, Maria Ibañez, and Kevin Moreno; and members Yury Guardado and Veronica Nwafor, among others.
“When I was given the honor of being asked to lead CASA’s sister organization, CASA in Action, it was in the heat of the 2020 election, and now as we expand the reach of our power nationwide, I can happily say that none of this would have been possible without the incredible courage and commitment of our members or without the incredible support of all of you here in person and watching at home,” closed Alonzo Washington, CASA in Action executive director.