As I pulled up to what appeared to be a mansion, I anxiously waited to begin my journey with CASA de Maryland. This nonprofit organization is located in the heart of Hyattsville, MD, most commonly known as Langley Park. A city known for its immense diversity and melting pot of ethnic restaurants, working in Langley Park has been truly eye opening. Every morning I pass numerous of young to old men patiently hoping by a gas station, Home Depot, or Taco Bell to be asked to work for the day. Already, my CASA de Maryland experience begins.
The mission of CASA de Maryland is not only to assist immigrants in the area through community and legal services, but to educate. Thus, several “Know Your Rights” presentations are held. One of the main issues immigrants face in the United States is not knowing their own rights. The fear of deportation is unimaginable and CASA tries to address this nightmare through education. To name a few, classes offered include English, worker rights, health clinics, and citizenship test preparation.
With Immigration Reform being a central current issue in the US, immigrant voices must be heard. CASA has an amazing organizing team that plans marches, door knocks, and press statements and so forth. Just this morning, a school bus full of children and church organizers from Chicago arrived to hold a march in downtown DC. It is astounding and heart-wrenching to hear stories from children whose parents have been deported. These children, ranging from middle school to high school graduates, have committed their time and passion to being the voice of the voiceless.
Everyone who works at CASA de Maryland is immensely inspirational. I have the most amazing boss, an employment lawyer, who has the biggest heart and commitment. The experience has shown me an interesting twist to a law degree and I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity. I look forward to the next weeks at CASA, as I have already found a new family.