“Compassionate Community Proclamation” sounds pretty nice, right? So why did close to 200 angry Des Moines residents pack the City Council chambers on Monday afternoon to protest Mayor Cownie’s feel-good sentiment?

The proclamation was just that: a feel-good piece of lipservice without any real value. This was the City Council’s only response to our Welcoming City resolution — which we proposed five months ago!

The mayor’s announcement did nothing to protect or improve services for immigrant and refugee residents. Our Welcoming City proposal had a number of action items, but the City Council said they were unnecessary.

In light of the city’s unwillingness to take action, we continue the fight to improve life for immigrants and refugees in Central Iowa.

These are our action steps:

  1. Each city department needs to participate in a training on interacting with federal immigration agencies or ICE in order to be fully prepared if or when city employees are approached with administrative or judicial warrants.
  2. Each city department needs to participate in an interactive cultural competency training in order to understand the needs and differences between the many cultures living in our city.
  3. The city needs to analyze their current bilingual or multilingual services then develop and implement a plan to improve those services in order to be more equitable to all residents.
  4. The city needs to consider providing Know-Your-Rights trainings to immigrant and refugee residents as part of their continued commitment to community outreach and relationship-building efforts.
  5. Finally, join and actively participate in the Welcoming America program. This is a national coalition of cities, businesses, nonprofits, and communities that provides in-depth toolkits, trainings, and resources to groups looking to create more equitable cities.

We’ll keep working on this important campaign. Sign up for our Fair Immigration email list to stay up to date on meetings and actions.

JOIN THE FIGHT!

The fact is, we have almost zero foundational support for this kind of work — so you can play a big part in helping us move forward when you become a member of Iowa CCI or make a donation to our Fair Immigration work.

The Des Moines city council is back pedaling.

After promising to get us their revised draft of the Welcoming City resolution — which they sat on for five months — they are now saying they don’t want to do it at all.

Instead all they want to pass is an inclusivity proclamation – a statement that has no substance, no action plan, and no real commitment to our community.

This ‘feel-good’ statement is not enough! Immigrant and refugee families in Des Moines cannot wait another day.

We’re asking you to fight back in two ways: 

1) Can you be at the city council meeting on Monday

We need as much community support as possible to stand with our immigrant and refugee neighbors and reject this proclamation. Welcoming City or BUST! 

Where: Richard A. Clark Municipal Building (1551 E. MLK Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 50309)

When: Monday, October 9th at 4:30pm

RSVP here –> we need you there with us! 

2) Call your city council representatives before Monday’s meeting!

Tell them this proclamation is not enough and ask them to support our immigrant/refugee communities – pass the Welcoming City resolution! Please let us know how your call(s) go.

Mayor Cownie – 515-255-3644
Skip Moore (At Large)- 515-681-9804
Chris Coleman (At Large)- 515-276-7644
Bill Gray (Ward 1) – 515-274-0077
Linda Westergaard (Ward 2) – 515-988-4288
Christine Hensley (Ward 3) – 515-255-4716
Joe Gatto (Ward 4) – 515-402-2626

Our communities don’t need empty promises, they need bold leadership and meaningful action. 

True to Iowa CCI style – we’re not backing down. We’ll see you on Monday!


P.S. The fact is we have almost no foundation support for this work. We’ve been able to dedicate organizational resources to this campaign thanks to support from folks like you. Donate, join, chip in here to keep the fight going strong!

 “[The Welcoming City resolution] is an issue where local government can step up to the plate and put its citizens ahead of division and partisan politics. We’ve seen actions at the state and federal level that have bullied immigrants and our communities, and Des Moines has an opportunity to stand up and say we won’t let that happen here,” said CCI member John Noble. 

Over 100 Des Moines residents gathered at Monday night’s City Council meeting to demonstrate overwhelming support for the ‘Welcoming City’ Resolution – a resolution that would make Des Moines a more inclusive and welcoming place for immigrants and refugees.

Check out the resolution here.

In April, Iowa CCI members, AFSC Iowa, and community leaders presented their resolution to the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission who voted unanimously to support it. On May 8th, we pushed the Des Moines City Council to take up the resolution.

Dozens lined up to share their personal stories with the Council about their struggles as immigrants in the United States, many non-English speakers. One commonality they all shared was their love for their Des Moines community and their pride in calling this city home.

If this resolution becomes a city ordinance, Des Moines would join a wave of cities across the country moving to create and promote inclusive communities for immigrants and refugees – despite some hateful rhetoric coming from Washington, D.C.

“Immigrants breathe life into Des Moines through their culture, labor, and entrepreneurship. It’s time we put our promises into practice through a tangible and enforceable ordinance,” said CCI board member Vanessa Marcano-Kelly.

We know this fight will be an uphill battle – but we’re not backing down!

Take Action to Make Des Moines a Welcoming City:

  • Call the Des Moines City Council’s Office at (515)283-4944. Tell them you support the “Welcoming City” resolution.
  • Join us on Thursday, May 25th at 6:30 pm for teach-in on the resolution. RSVP here.
  • Add your name to our petition to show widespread support.

Join the Fight: 

Our ‘Welcoming City’ ordinance has its first public hearing on Monday!

Your presence at the Des Moines City Council meeting will make the difference – can you be there? 

Waves of cities across the country have passed similar ordinances to protect the public safety of immigrant and refugee communities.

Our ‘Welcoming City’ ordinance formally declares Des Moines a welcoming city to immigrant families. And it takes that commitment a step further by:

  • establishing a task force to create and implement city policies that make Des Moines more accessible to immigrants
  • ensuring that our local law enforcement agencies aren’t working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • promoting inclusivity through programs like Community ID

Let’s show the City Council, the media, and Trump what Iowa values really look like!

Join a broad coalition of Iowans standing with our immigrant friends and neighbors.

 When? Monday, May 8th at 4:30pm

Where? 1551 E. Martin Luther King Jr PKWY

  >>RSVP here!<< 

It’s our turn to stand on the right side of history! This is about more than resistance; we’re fighting for what our communities need.

 

Join the Fight!

 

Yesterday, Iowa Congressman Steve King mocked me on Twitter. 

He poked back at my tweet with a racial insult because I’m an immigrant.

I was shaken and very angry. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from CCI it’s this: when everyday people are under attack – we stand up and fight back!

I was in Washington DC with a team of CCI members for the People’s Action #RiseUp2017 conference. We had meetings scheduled with aides from most of Iowa’s Congressional delegation. King’s staffers did not to show up – so we went to King’s office … and we Facebook Lived it.

We told King’s staff that his toxic tweets are dehumanizing and that his harassment of immigrants in our community has got to stop. It does not represent Iowa values.

I chose to move here five years ago because Iowa has a history of welcoming immigrants and refugees. I love it here. I met my husband here. I started my interpretation business here. And, I have my CCI family!

Our video confronting King’s staff has gone viral.

As of noon today (4/16) it has over 38,330 views on our Facebook page and hundreds of shares and comments. The story is being picked up by several major news outlets.

This is who we are. CCI is tough and tenacious whereever we go! The important work we do together continues. 

Whether it be for a living wage, clean water, or to stop racial profiling — Iowa CCI members and staff are there fighting tooth and nail for the people, the planet, and the country we love. There really aren’t too many organizations that go to bat for everyday folks in this way.

The outpouring of support has been heartwarming, thank you.

BUT, I’d be remiss as a proud Iowa CCI board member if I did not ask you to help this organization I love!

Will you join me and donate $25 (or more if possible) today?

Your support feuls the much needed fight back and organizing ahead.

Onward!

 

Vanessa Marcano-Kelly
Iowa CCI Board Member

 

Join the Fight!

 

This we wholeheartedly agree: Immigrants make America great!

Iowa CCI and CCI Action are standing in solidarity with millions of Americans who reject President  Trump’s hateful and racist ban on Muslims, refugees and immigrants. CCI members pledge to fight back against any attack on our communities; an attack on one of us is an attack on ALL of us.

We’ve been getting a lot of calls from members all across the state asking how we can fight back against Trump’s executive ban on Muslims and attacks on immigrants. We’ve pulled together some information on actions happening all across the state to protect our immigrant communities.
Take a look at our guide below and let us know of actions near you that aren’t listed here!

Here are THREE WAYS you can take action and say #NoBanNoWall 

1. MARCH!

Thursday, thousands of Iowans across the state are hitting the streets in Des Moines, Ames and Iowa City to protest against Trump’s executive orders against our Muslim and immigrant brothers and sisters.

Ames: #HoodiesAndHijabs Solidarity March, Thursday, Feb 9th, 11 AM, Iowa State University, Memorial Union. Click here for more details.

Des Moines: DSM March Against Muslim Ban & Anti-Immigrant Orders, Thursday, Feb 2nd, 5-8 PM, State Capitol. Rally begins at 5 PM on Capitol steps. Click here for more details.

Iowa City: Solidarity Rally Against the Ban, Sunday, February 5th, 1 PM, downtown Iowa City Ped Mall, click here for more details.

Cedar Falls: Rally to protest executive orders banning refugees and building the wall, Sunday, February 5th, 2:30 PM- 3 PM, 515 Main Street, Cedar Falls. Hosted by Americans for Democratic Action/Iowa.

2. STAY EDUCATED!

Des Moines: Forum on Protecting Communities & Responding to Hate Crimes, Wednesday, February 1st, 5:30-9 PM, Des Moines University (hosted by the Des Moines Civil Rights Commission). Click here for more details.

Des Moines: Faith Communities as Sanctuary exploratory meeting, Tuesday, February 7th, 4:30-6:30 PM, First Christian Church, 2500 University Ave. Click here for more details.

Des Moines : I am Iowa: Interfaith Community Gathering in Support of Refugees and Immigrants, Sunday, February 5th, North High School, 501 Holcomb Ave. Click here for more details.

Waterloo: Panel to discuss recent executive order ban on immigrants and refugees, Sunday, Feb 5th, noon – 2:00 PM, Hawkeye Community College, 1501 E Orange Rd, Tama Building, room 102.  Hosted by the Cedar Valley Interfaith Council and Masjid Al-Noor Islamic Center.

Members of the panel will include Miriram Amer, executive director of the Iowa branch of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, Gunda Brost of Brost Immigration Law firm, Ruth Ratliff of St. Luke Episcopal Church and Kamyar Enshayan, former Cedar Falls City Council member.

The program is free and open to the public.

3. By-stander intervention: What to do if you are witnessing Islamophbic or immigrant phobic harassment

Check out these great tips from French illustrator Maeril on how YOU can speak out and help a person who’s being targeted:

1.) Engage in conversation [with the person experiencing harassment, not their attacker]. Go to them, sit beside them and say hello. Try to appear calm, collected and welcoming. IGNORE THE ATTACKER.

2.) Pick a random subject and start discussing it. It can be anything: a movie you liked, the weather, saying you like something they wear and asking where they got it…

3.) Keep building the safe space. Keep eye contact with them and don’t acknowledge the attacker’s presence: the absence of response from you two will push them to leave the area shortly.

4.) Continue the conversation until the attacker leaves and escort them to a safe place if necessary. Bring them to a neutral area where they can recollect themselves; respect their wishes if they tell you they’re ok and just want to go.

LIKE and SHARE if you agree: Muslims, immigrants and refugees are #HeretoStay