Across the mid-Atlantic region, members of the nonprofit CASA are celebrating hard-fought victories, from the recent rent stabilization in Prince George’s County in Maryland to the closure of Berks County Detention Center in Pennsylvania, which had a long history of abuse and violence.

But there is more work to be done. In this Q&A, learn how CASA and its sister organization, CASA in Action, are fighting for the rights of Latino, immigrant, and working-class people across the country.

Q. Local membership committees are a driving force behind CASA’s work. Can you describe this model and why it’s effective?

CASA is the foremost immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region and a national leader in supporting immigrant families because of our members. By having local membership committees as the driving force behind CASA’s work, all these individuals have the full support to participate in blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy to support the full spectrum of needs, dreams, and aspirations of members. 

This model is effective because it ensures waves of activism that will continue to be led by day laborers, domestic workers, students, parents, and other members whom all have a decision in regards to what the organization fights for, what our strategy is, and who will represent them in CASA’s organization-wide Leadership Council. 

CASA is built on member committees from Chester County, Pa. to Prince William County, Va. CASA is home to a national members committee that meets monthly and a youth meeting that brings together CASA activists from across our footprint. These committees meet monthly and a local committee is formally recognized with voice and vote when they have at least 30 committed activists at each meeting and the capacity to mobilize more than three times that number for campaigns.

Q. CASA is focused on the next generation. Tell us about the youth leadership development program – goals, successes, etc.? 

CASA firmly believes in fostering youth leadership for the next generation of activism. CASA launched Mi Espacio, an after-school leadership and enrichment program for Latino high school students in Prince William County and Fairfax County (Virginia). The program strives to build the next generation of Latino youth leaders by combining academic support with life skills including workforce development, financial literacy, and health education. Here, CASA runs after-school and in-school programs to help high school students improve their academic engagement to help them apply for college. Additionally, with CASA’s AmeriCorps program, members engage in between 300 to 1,700 hours of service to meet community needs in education, the environment, public safety, and health.

Q. CASA’s sister organization, CASA In Action [501(c)(4)], works to mobilize voters to elect leaders who support immigrant rights. How does the work empower Black and Brown voters? What are your main priorities as you look to 2024?

CASA in Action takes the same issues, values, and passion our CASA team brings to our communities and focuses it on the political battles that need to be fought to secure rights, dignity, and empowerment for Black, Brown, and immigrant families. These crucial battles are fought through grassroots advocacy and lobbying campaigns, alongside elections programs.

The campaigns CASA in Action prioritize, and the candidates they endorse, are chosen directly by our combined membership of nearly 122,000-plus working-class immigrants who are seeking justice for their communities and full human rights for all. CASA in Action's executive board is fully member-led and composed of community activists. 

 Q. Across both organizations, what efforts are you most proud of? What are your biggest challenges?

We are proud of our expansion nationwide. We have recently set base in Georgia and we continue to expand membership engagement, membership base, and additional centers for education and development programs. We have been hard at work building capacity in the state for further services and organizing. The Atlanta Metro area has welcomed CASA with open arms, and we have been busy building coalitions and partnerships. 

CASA is proud to be a part of the LatinX Alliance and Freedom to Drive Coalition, as well as collaborating with New Georgia Project, United for Respect, and the Communications Workers of America to establish essential worker advisory boards in every county in Georgia, and working with education advocacy groups to oppose bans on the discussion of race and racism in the classroom.

Our biggest challenges continue to relate to our expansion and setting up donor commitment in new areas where CASA has a shorter history, such as Georgia. By having more donors, we can support our members with expanded services and continued advocacy to provide the resources they need to thrive. ​​Increased funding will allow us to better execute and conduct a needs assessment and research the best plan of action for implementing services that meet the specific needs of the Metro Atlanta Community.

Q. What advice would you give donors who are interested in supporting immigrants’ rights? 

CASA policy is guided by the principle that every single person deserves dignity, respect, and equitable rights, no matter where they’re from, the color of their skin, or the amount of money they have. With this belief, donors should understand that society is only as healthy as its weakest citizen, and it is only as wealthy as its most deprived. From healthcare expansion to education equity, by supporting CASA you are joining 122,000 immigrants and working-class members in their fight for robust progressive policies for the immigrant community at large. CASA members lead significant campaigns on the local, state, and federal levels that build power in vulnerable communities; thus, forming a society where all community members can thrive. To donate to CASA is to sign up as a co-conspirator in our fight for a more just society.