NAFTA: Putting family farmers out of business since 1994

Since NAFTA’s start in 1994, “free trade” schemes have dramatically increased corporate profits at the expense of everyday people, including the hundreds of thousands of U.S. farmers who have been pushed out of business since its inception.

Join our letter campaign on Action Network! Send an email to your elected official now tell them to vote NO to NAFTA 2.0.

USMCA is nothing more than NAFTA 2.0. Tell your elected officials in the US House of Representatives to vote NO on NAFTA 2.0 (USMCA) until we have a fair trade agreement that works for workers, farmers, communities and our healthcare.

It is better to take the time needed to get this right then get it wrong and worsen the problems we’ve had for the last 25 years.

Right now, the political establishment is pushing for NAFTA 2.0, which will continue to maximize corporate profits at the expense of farmers, workers and communities.

Send an email to your elected official now tell them to vote NO to NAFTA 2.0.

Thanks for attending the Iowa CCI / Sunrise Green New Deal Tour Stop in Des Moines on April 24, 2019.

But the action doesn’t stop here, we’re just getting started! Here are 3 things…

to do in the next 3 days…

  • Call/Email your US Congresspeople and tell them to support the Green New Deal! None of our Senators or Representatives have signed on to support this resolution to take concrete action on climate chaos.
  • Call your State Rep. and tell them to VOTE NO on SF 583 – the bill to gut Net Metering in Iowa: 515-281-3221 (House Switchboard)

to do in the next 3 weeks…

  • If you live in Des Moines, contact the city council and tell them to support a climate action plan.
  • Attend the May 3 Climate Strike led by young people at the Iowa Capitol. 10am-1pm @ Iowa State Capitol, Des Moines.
  • Join us at the Iowa CCI HQ in Des Moines on Thursday, May 16th, to strategize on our next steps to build support for the Green New Deal!

to do in the next 3 months…

On Monday April 22nd, hundreds of Iowans will gather in Des Moines to listen to stories of loss to climate change and hope that can be found in the Green New Deal. The truth is that most Americans want changes such as clean air and water, jobs in renewable energy, and preparing our infrastructure for the changing planet. As part of a greater American tour, this event in Des Moines will inspire and equip attendees to truly be the change that is necessary to move the Green New Deal forward.

WHAT: A celebration and call to action featuring musical performances, art, and compelling speeches from young people, political, and movement leaders at the forefront of the environmental justice movement.

WHEN: Monday, April 22nd at 7:00 pm CT

WHERE: Sheslow Auditorium, 2507 University Ave. Des Moines, IA 50311. Tickets will be available at

WHO: Sunrise Movement, Iowa CCI, and hundreds of Iowans are making this event possible.

WHY: To tell people about the Green New Deal and give them the tools and resources to pressure their policymakers to get behind it.

The following post is from CCI Action member Jan Wann from Clear Lake, IA. Jan is currently in Texas joining the resistance to Trump’s border wall. Jan is no stranger to going where the fight calls her – having trekked to Standing Rock during the DAPL fight numerous times.

Jan sent along a GoFundMe link to contribute to Somi-Se’k Village. Give here.

January 24, 2019

Hey Hugh,

I am in Texas at a base camp for border resistance. Just thought I would share. You can share as you like. 

It’s nice and warm here: 66F yesterday, which makes for nice camping weather. We are basically in a backyard of several acres, 35 miles south of San Antonio. It is Juan’s place and there are three houses: Juan and his two sons and their families. I will call their tribe Somi’Sek but that is only a rough try at a new name for me. 

People come and go. One group went to the border yesterday just after I got here. I was asked to fill in here. The border is about 4 hours from here. I will go before I leave.

The plan is to put up three camps at the border to resist the bulldozers as they break ground for the wall right through a butterfly sanctuary and veteran cemetery. One camp is manned already.  

I am, as usual, the oldest. There is a cooking tent. There seems to be no cook so I will pick up that task this week. Joe Plough from CamosARising set up shower and laundry facilities. Very primitive. There are maybe 10 tents and a sweat lodge, port-a-potties, and sacred fire.

There are people from all over, Ohio, Virginia,  Houston, Oregon, and locals. People have many interesting stories. One woman works on death row with inmates, another travels the globe getting kids to make documentaries. Many of these people have been working with the caravan.  

There is a border resistance summit next weekend in Arizona. But there is so much more going on here: 3 LNG [liquid national gas?] plants going up on Sacred Ground near Brownsville; death row inmates; tribes unlisted; hurricane relief in Houston, UNICEF throwing out activists in Tijuana… 

Good water though! And donkeys, not factory farms! I will be here for another week, maybe. More later. 

January 26, 2019

I got to the base camp near Floresville TX on Monday Jan 21. I had tents and personal supplies to hand off and indeed within an hour they were loaded and off they went to the forward camp near the cemetery on the border. I stayed to help hold down the camp with Di and to organize the supply tent. There will be three forward camps. 

Tuesday 1/22: 

People come and go, preparing for the border resistance summit in Tucson. people are from around Texas, Oregon, Virginia, Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska,  North and South Dakota, and Iowa.

Tucker is putting together binders for work with undocumented persons along the border. These will be handed out to other camps to provide unity of data collection. Nate and Tucker have been in Tijuana working with the caravan.

Di is inventorying supplies and counted 87 blankets that were collected for handing out to people crossing at the border.

Hearing about the people convicted of felonies for leaving water for people crossing the dessert made this project take on a new urgency.

Heavy blowing rain and lightning has washed out my tent, so moved to my car.

Wed 1/23: 

Rain ended about 3AM and  the camp fire is nearly got down to coals. Not on my watch, logs are added.

Found my way to Floresville for propane, tent stakes, groceries, laundromat.

Texas in winter is gold and green, with small shrub oaks, cactus, palms, a few flowers and many birds that are new to me.

Di told me of her work with death row inmates and The Prison Show on the radio. 

Thurs 1/23: 

Drove Di to San Antonio for R and R in Houston. This camp plans to rotate people in and out of the forward camps. I attacked the supply room and used my taxonomy skills to organize soap, shampoo, blankets, emergency water, towels, dental supplies, as well as kitchen equipment, hardware such as heaters and lanterns, and tools. Scored a used rain poncho.

Since I have the pick of the camp for sleeping I tried out a cot in the supply tent. Never again, that bar about wrecked my spine. Give me a flat spot on the ground.

Miguel, who lives here and is Juan’s son in law came with his young son Enrique. Being a grannie, we hit it off and found lots of interesting things around camp. 

Fri 1/24: 

Just me here during the day; finished the organizing. The three camp dogs tore through the camp in pursuit of something and all four ended up in the supply tent, knocking over the cots and blankets. All went back in place.

Tried out the solar shower and after much turning of knobs and checking of hoses I feel human again.

The unity of purpose amongst this family compound is touching. Miguel’s family plans to go to the forward camp this werkend, a four hour drive each way. Some protectors from the cemetery camp will come here. I also will go to that camp, but am waiting for the list of supplies to bring along with Di’s duffle bag and cot.

More rain after midnight, but light and short lived, the fire is built up and as I end this, Michael Allen from Houston arrives. 

January 28, 2019

I am at a laundromat washing the camp towels. There is a small hand powered washer at camp but towels are bothersome. Then the clothes line serves to dry. 

I have been able to informally interview the people that pass thru camp. 

Tomorrow I go south to Mission where a six-mile section of the wall will bisect a butterfly sanctuary and then plow right through a cemetery with the graves of indigenous people and civil war veterans. 

I am hearing about eminent domain abuse. Of course it is irritating that many people support Trump but are up in arms when that blessed wall goes through their yard, or in some cases is like Gaza where their whole homestead is on the wrong side of a wall that is miles from the actual border. And well, the government just has to take the whole bit to keep us safe. So there is a possibility for 4 camps plus this base camp. 

There is word of a series of concerts all along the border and Roger Waters is interested in joining in. I had to ask who is he?

I am blessed to be able to be here , and not JUST because it us 71 F… I mean, someone needs to keep the fire burning. 

You’ve probably heard something on the news about the growing refugee and migrant caravan of Central Americans – mainly Hondurans and Guatemalans – making their way to the US-Mexico border. And if you haven’t, you soon will as it’s Republicans’ newest poster child for the looming midterm elections. Here’s what you need to know.

In the upcoming weeks, we’re going to update you on the caravan, breakdown the onslaught of conspiracy theories, and unpack the subtle – and not-so-subtle – racism that has been dominating our social media feeds and news cycles. Sign up for our newsletter to stay in the know.

What is a refugee and migrant caravan?

Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied children and families crossing the US-Mexico border. These people are from the Northern part of Central America, mainly Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. They’re fleeing drug-related violence, persecution and death threats, and extreme economic distress.

All of these families are seeking asylum.

Traditionally, asylum-seekers travel as a family unit. But the crisis in Central America has forced thousands of people into tough situations. For the safety of their children, many families became organized and made the decision to travel together in the hopes of protecting one another.What started off as less than 200 asylum-seekers has grown to more than 7,000 in just a few weeks. Check out a map of their journey so far. 

The journey to the US-Mexico border is no cake walk. It’s weeks of walking through dense jungles and barren deserts with limited food and water. But the elements are only one obstacle on their journey. People seeking asylum often encounter coyotes and traffickers who are quick to take the family’s possessions and money. If there are young girls or women, there a high chance they could be taken and sold into sex trafficking.

Families risk everything when they make the journey to the United States. This is not a decision people make lightly. And it’s exactly why thousands of people have chosen to migrate together – to survive.

Refugee vs. Migrant

The news coverage of the caravan has used a variety of terms when referring to the people within it. We’re not sure these journalists understand the difference between the labels of refugee or migrant. It’s important to note that there are distinguishable differences as they relate to the law and asylum.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Council, a refugee is a person fleeing armed conflict while a migrant is a person who has chosen to move not because of a direct threat but due to indirect threats such as food insecurity, economic distress, or the pursuit of more opportunity.

This 7,000+ caravan is made up of both refugees and migrants. Each person has their own story and motivations for fleeing their home countries. But they all share a common goal – they want to live.

How do you seek asylum?

Seeking asylum is very difficult. The US system for asylum has intentional barriers in place that make the process nearly impossible to complete – and under the Trump administration, it’s become even worse.

First, a person must present themselves as an asylum-seeker. They must be either at the US-Mexico border, the US-Canadian border or within the United States in order to proceed. Then, the person must establish what is known as credible fear of persecution. The person must provide evidence that they have been persecuted or will be persecuted due to the following five criteria:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

In recent years, asylum seekers have been met with the political animosity towards immigrants. Border patrol agents are required by law to refer any asylum-seeker to an asylum agent who will conduct the credible fear interview. A Human Rights First report (May 2017) stated that hundreds of border agents were turning people away at the border and refusing to allow them the opportunity to plead their case.

If the person is lucky enough to get the approval of the asylum officer, they must then present their case to an immigration judge and prepare to argue in court against an experienced prosecutor. With a backlog of nearly 700,000 cases and only 350 immigration judges available to hear these cases, an asylum seeker will likely wait years for their day in court. Once they appear in court and plead their case, the likelihood of a judge approving their case is slim.

Now – set all of that aside – and remember that asylum-seekers must go through this entire process in English. While there may be some bilingual assistance along the way, most people have to fight for themselves without any help or knowledge of the language and immigration law. Only 14% of these cases actually obtain legal representation. 

If the grant for asylum is denied, the person is deported to their home country. Many asylum-seekers will make the journey to the border several times in their lifetime.

These asylum-seekers are organized.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing to come out of the refugee and migrant caravan situation is the blatant racism and disregard for people of color. We’ve seen some subtle and then some not-so-subtle public displays of racism and xenophobia in the past two weeks. Unfortunately, we’ll probably continue to see more of that as we inch closer to the midterm elections.

But we want to dismantle these attacks and misinformation because enough is enough.

The most common myth we are seeing in the news is that this caravan is not organized. This assumption sheds some harsh light on how many people in the United States view poor people, especially poor brown or black people. White people cannot fathom a group of poor Central Americans having the intellectual capacity to organize the caravan, protect the members within the caravan, and make their way to the United States.

And so some news outlets have chosen to belittle what is arguably one of the most important visual displays of civil unrest and economic distress caused by US and international imperialism in their home countries. Check out this tweet from the Associated Press that has since been deleted due to its tone-deaf assessment of the caravan:

This callous analysis of the purpose of the caravan and the power of persecuted people has been a common theme among news outlets. Referring to a mass movement of people due to decades of corrupt politics and severe economic turmoil as a “ragtag army of the poor” perpetuates all the problems that prevent us from making progress on immigration reform and international relations.

This assumption could not be further from the truth.

This caravan is an example of collective action. It has a structure. It has leaders. It has rules. It’s a group of motivated and impacted people who are tired of being abused by the powers that be.

What’s more interesting to watch is the decision-making within the caravan. Along the way, the caravan has encountered several obstacles – mainly as they cross borders from one country to the next. At each obstacle the caravan has provided members with their options and allowed people to decide for themselves what they would like to do.

For example, Guatemalan and Mexican officials attempted to prevent the caravan from moving across the SW Mexico-Guatemala border on Saturday, October 21st. By show of hands, the caravan took a vote on whether or not they should continue onward to the United States. The majority voted to move on while 1,500 members chose to stay behind and presented themselves to Mexican authorities for asylum.

What will happen once the caravan reaches the US-Mexico border?

The reality is we’re not sure.

But we can speculate based on what we already know about the current situation at the border and from what Trump has alluded during his rallies this past week.

The current situation at the US-Mexico border has not improved since May when Trump issued a zero-tolerance policy and separated thousands of children from their parents. While US officials and border organizations are still working to reunite those separated families, many remain in limbo – living in tent camps with limited resources. The process for admitting asylum-seekers has been excruciatingly slow, with border officials only inspecting and interviewing a few families each day.

The lines to meet with an asylum officer are backed up in the thousands. When the caravan arrives, this problem will rapidly increase.

That is the best case scenario at this point.

Trump has alluded to using military force against the caravan while speaking with a news outlet this past Monday. He claimed that the caravan was “an assault on our country” and that he would send as many troops as possible to the border to stop the caravan. Given what we’ve seen from law enforcement when policing non-violent rallies and understanding that the military has a lot more weaponry in their arsenal, it’s concerning to us that the President would create that kind of environment where many, many innocent people could be hurt.

What’s next?

We’re going to continue monitoring the on-going events and update you all with our analysis. As the caravan approaches the US-Mexico border, we expect organizations on the ground will need support. We’ll let you know what are the best action steps you can take to help during this difficult situation.

In the meantime, sign up for our newsletter so you can stay in-the-know and get the latest updates from us!

We believe families belong together – not in cages or jails.

You asked for it – and we delivered! Today we officially launched a statewide toolkit designed to provide content, resources, materials, and strategy that will help local communities keep ICE out of Iowa.

Read the full toolkit here. 

Why a toolkit?

In June, we held a series of ‘Keep ICE Out of Iowa’ meetings across the state. Hundreds of you gathered together for in-depth discussions with national immigrant rights organizers about how everyday people could create safer communities for all while blocking ICE operations in our own neighborhoods.

We covered a lot of material during those discussions. Folks had a lot of great ideas – and many wanted to do more in their own towns. We created this toolkit to give you a starting point to organize in your own communities.

How was this toolkit created?

Iowa CCI and American Friends Service Committee spent the next two months reviewing feedback from these events and surveyed immigrant families in Central Iowa. We asked families to identify fears and concerns they had with living and working in Iowa. We also reviewed the anti-immigrant law Senate File 481 and projected potential issues that law would cause for immigrant families and people of color.

We took ALL of this information a began crafting local solutions that would address these problems, create safer and more welcoming communities, and most importantly – get ICE out of Iowa.

How do I use this toolkit?

This toolkit is intended to meet people where they are at in their communities. Some folks have strong connections with immigrant families and are ready to push elected officials for bold solutions while others may be just beginning to organize around immigrant rights. Either way, the information in this toolkit will guide you in the right direction.

In order to make the most of this guide, it’s up to you to take action and get the ball rolling. We’re here to help you along the way.

What information is in the toolkit?

This toolkit covers a wide range of topics from educational efforts like ‘Know Your Rights’ information and trainings to rapid response planning in preparation for potential ICE raids to organizing campaigns that call on elected officials to implement progressive policies and practices that benefit immigrant families.

Read the full toolkit here.

Want to get more involved?