On July 1st, 2018 the anti-immigrant law Senate File 481 (SF481) officially went into effect. SF481 forces local law enforcement agencies to work closer with Immigration Customs & Enforcement (ICE) and other federal immigration agencies and ultimately, makes our communities less safe.

For the past two years, CCI Action has been partnering with immigrant ally groups across Iowa to create welcoming communities. We’ll continue to fight to keep families together and keep people out of jail. And most importantly, work to repeal SF481.

We’ve nailed down two campaign strategies to keep ICE out of Iowa:

  1. We want to keep people out of jail by working at the city level to ensure that police departments accept various forms of identification, eliminate racial profiling and pretextual stops, and issue more citations rather than arresting community members. We’ll also work with elected officials to promote ‘Know Your Rights’ trainings and create better city service accessibility through language expansion.
  2. We want to keep families together by working at the county level to ensure that sheriff departments offer ‘Know Your Rights’ information in a person’s preferred language, provide unbiased third party interpretation services, and eliminate contracts or agreements with ICE. We’ll also work with elected officials to establish a community ID program and create a detainer request review protocol to ensure that requests from ICE are valid.

It’s going to take all of us – working in our own communities – to move our campaigns forward. Immigrants are Iowans, too. And we won’t allow a rogue federal agency to tear Iowa families apart.

Take the first step by contacting your local police chief and county sheriff.

Where does your police chief and county sheriff stand on SF481?

Contact your local police chief and sheriff to find out what’s their position on this law and let them know that we want to keep ICE out of Iowa and keep families together. Here’s a brief script to guide you:

Hello! My name is ________ and I’m a resident of _________. I’m calling in regards to a recent law that was passed in Iowa – SF481. It requires law enforcement to work closer with ICE and other immigration agencies. This law is bad policy; it makes communities less safe by creating distrust between law enforcement and communities.

I’d like Chief ______ or Sheriff _______ to stand with his/her community in rejecting SF481 and work to keep families together by publicly denouncing SF481. Can I count on him/her to do that?

(Wait for response)

IF YES – Great! It’s important to stand with communities and lead by example. I look forward to Chief ______ or Sheriff ______ making a public statement about SF481. Thank you!

IF NO – It’s important, now more than ever, to do what’s right. This law is unjust. It hurts all of us and creates unsafe communities. Local law enforcement should work to keep families together and keep ICE out of Iowa.

 

**We want to hear how your calls went. Report back to Madeline Cano by emailing madeline@iowacci.org or call the office at (515)282-0484**

On Sunday, July 1, a day after thousands of Iowans stood in solidarity with immigrant families at the border for a national day of action to #KeepFamiliesTogether, Senate File 481 (SF481) officially became Iowa law. The law requires local entities – specifically police – to work more closely with federal immigration agencies like ICE.

The bill was denounced by immigrants and allies during the past two legislative sessions, stating it promoted racial profiling and made Iowa less safe for all people.

“In the past year, ICE activity in Iowa has increased by 67%. While all eyes are on the disastrous situation at the border, ICE continues to disrupt our communities and destroy Iowa families,” said Isabel Conn, an Iowa CCI member and domestic violence advocate. “It’s dangerous to force Iowa police and sheriffs to comply with a federal agency that acts without rules, regulations, or repercussions. Iowans will lose trust in their police, creating an even more dangerous situation for victims of crime.”

Iowa has already seen a glimpse of the dangers of this law in Mt. Pleasant, where three levels of Iowa law enforcement – city police, county sheriffs, and state patrol – aided in a workplace raid without detailed information from ICE regarding the operation. First-hand reports stated police were dressed in full riot gear while a helicopter circled the concrete facility.

Here’s What SF481 Will Do

The law increases Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) power in Iowa, including:

  • Increasing local/state law enforcement collaboration with ICE
  • Preventing local entities from restricting cooperation with ICE
  • Requiring local/state law enforcement to honor ICE detainer requests, a less formal version of a judicial warrant

By January 1st, all law enforcement agencies in Iowa will be forced to provide written policy regarding enforcement of immigration law as required by Senate File 481. 

Advocates say SF481 will be disastrous not only for undocumented Iowans, but also those with various status privileges like permanent residents, refugees, visa-holders, and recipients of programs like DACA and TPS. According to the administration, ICE is supposed to target criminals and violent offenders. However, the majority of detainees from Iowa’s only crime is re-entering the United States to reunite with their families.

“Every individual has rights in the United States, including immigrants in our communities,” said CCI immigrant rights organizer Madeline Cano. “But what we’ve been seeing in Iowa and across the country for years is a complete violation of an individual’s constitutional rights and denial of due process simply because an individual was born in Mexico or Central America.”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members and immigrant rights allies across the state say they will continue fighting to repeal this unconstitutional law. In three community meetings held in late June attended by over 500 Iowans, Iowa CCI members and immigrant allies committed to provide ‘Know  Your Rights’ trainings, support families in need, and push local/state officials to make Iowa a welcoming place for all.

Here’s How We’re Fighting Back

  1. Repeal SF481

Bottom line – SF481 is bad public policy. It violates our constitutional rights, subjects law enforcement to profile communities, and holds public officials hostage by threatening funding. That’s why our main goal is to not only reject SF481 – but repeal it.

Meet with your local legislators. They represent us 365 days out of the year, not just during legislative session. Now is the time to sit down – face to face – with elected officials and demand that they publicly reject SF481 and commit to repealing it in 2019.

2. Keep families together

This law is destructive to its core. We’re not seeing violent criminals being removed from our communities. We’re seeing mothers, fathers, and families being targeted, detained, and deported. Many of whom have no previous criminal record other than a charge for trying to reunite with their families.

The long-term trauma caused by family separation is immeasurable.

Join a community response team. Iowa CCI, American Friends Service Committe, and other immigrant rights organizations have collaborated to form local response teams to help track ICE activity in their neighborhoods, work closely with impacted families, and prepare communities for potential raids.

Contact Berenice Nava-Romero at (515)274-4851 if you are interested in volunteering on a team.

3. Keep people out of jail

ICE has no power without the assistance of local law enforcement. ICE works to trap individuals when they have been arrested for misdemeanors or minor infractions through a detainer request. SF481 now requires all local law enforcement to honor these requests and to hold individuals in jail while ICE investigates them.

Meet with your local police and sheriff. It’s important to know where your local law enforcement departments stand on this issue. All departments will be required to have written policy stating how they plan to enforce immigration law by January 2019. Gather a group of your friends and set up a meeting with your police chief and county sheriff.

Contact Maddie Cano at (515)282-0484 if you are interested in setting up a meeting.

4. Report ICE

If you see something, say something. ICE operates in secret. They don’t want the public to know about their activity in Iowa. That’s why we must work to expose them.

Call our 24-7 bilingual hotline at (515)996-0003 to report any ICE activity in your neighborhood or if someone you know has been detained by ICE.

Through this hotline, we’ve been able to help dozens of families, utilize the data to track ICE patterns in Iowa, and keep people informed.

Stay tuned! A toolkit is on the way!

Photo of our standing-room-only Iowa City meeting by Eli Shepard

As we explained at this week’s packed Deportation Defense meetings in Marshalltown, Iowa City, and Des Moines, we’re organizing to:

  • create community response teams to prevent deportations,
  • develop new strategies to reduce the harm of SF 481,
  • build grassroots resistance to anti-immigrant agenda,
  • and get ICE out of Iowa.

A few action items came out of the meetings: 

  • You have been calling Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, and David Young – keep calling! Tell them to keep families together, hold ICE accountable, and reform immigration so that our country can be a shining beacon of hope to all. Use this line from our national allies: 1-877-291-2172 – it will patch you directly to your Representative.
  • If you’re interested in getting more involved by connecting your church with a sanctuary network or accompanying people to ICE check-ins, contact Erica Johnson at AFSC of Iowa: 515-209-2733 or afscdesm@afsc.org
  • If you would like to get involved with the Iowa ICE Rapid Response team, call Madeline at 515-282-0484, or email madeline@iowacci.org.

You can watch the entirety of the Des Moines meeting on our Facebook page, and read about it on WHOtv.com and in Little Village.

And, stay tuned to our emails as we roll out more work on this issue.

Further reading:

For people who know something is very wrong but aren’t sure what to do

 

(Español abajo)

For years, ICE has been terrorizing our communities with little to no accountability. From the recent raid in Mount Pleasant where workers were racially profiled, detained, and some even tazed or beaten by ICE agents to the consistent individual pick-ups across Iowa, it’s clear that ICE has gone rogue.

Enough is enough.

Join Iowa CCI and ally organizations for a series of meetings across Iowa where we’ll discuss how to keep ICE out of our communities. We’ve invited several powerful immigrant rights organizers from across the country to collaborate with us.

Priscila Martinez is the Texas Immigration Coalition Coordinator for the Workers Defense Action Fund where she organizes to block ICE activity and prevent deportations while lifting up immigrant stories across Texas.

Salvador Cervantes is the Midwest Regional Director for Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a national organization that works to elevate immigrant rights in politics. Salvador has organized in several states to fight and repeal laws like SF481. 

We’ll discuss several key topics including:

  • Best practices to protect and organize families
  • Key communication strategies to counter ICE’s “criminal” narrative
  • Collaborative efforts to develop local policies that welcome immigrants

Now, more than ever, we must work together to make Iowa a safe and welcoming place for all people.

Join us at one – or all! – of the following events:

Stand up to ICE and tell them NOT IN OUR TOWN!

RSVP TODAY! Then share these events with your friends on social media. The more people we have with us, the more powerful we become.

For a better – more welcoming – Iowa,

Maddie Cano
Community Organizer

P.S. Read about some of the work Priscila Martinez is doing in Texas!

——–

Durante años, ICE ha estado aterrorizando a nuestras comunidades con poca o ninguna responsabilidad. Desde la reciente incursión en Mount Pleasant, donde los trabajadores fueron racialmente perfilados, detenidos, y algunos incluso tarados o golpeados por los agentes de ICE a las repetidas ataques individuales en Iowa, está claro que ICE se ha convertido en una agencia forajida.

¡Basta!

Únase a Iowa CCI y organizaciones aliadas para una serie de reuniones en Iowa, donde discutiremos cómo mantener el ICE fuera de nuestras comunidades. Hemos invitado a varios organizadores poderosos de derechos de inmigrantes de todo el país para que colaboren con nosotros.

Priscila Martínez es la Coordinadora de la Coalición de Inmigración de Texas para Workers Defense Action Fund, donde se organiza para bloquear la actividad de ICE y prevenir las deportaciones mientras levanta las experiencias de inmigrantes en todo Texas.

Salvador Cervantes es el Director Regional del Medio Oeste del Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), una organización nacional que trabaja para elevar los derechos de los inmigrantes en la política. Salvador se ha organizado en varios estados para luchar y revocar leyes como SF481.

Discutiremos varios temas clave, que incluyen:

  • Las mejores prácticas para proteger y organizar a las familias
  • Estrategias clave de comunicación para contrarrestar la narrativa “criminal” de ICE
  • Esfuerzos de colaboración para desarrollar políticas locales que reciban inmigrantes

Ahora, más que nunca, debemos trabajar juntos para hacer de Iowa un lugar seguro y acogedor para todas las personas.

Únete a nosotros en uno – o todos! – de los siguientes eventos:

¡Levántate a ICE y diles NO EN NUESTRA COMUNIDAD!

¡RSVP HOY! Luego comparte estos eventos con tus amigos en las redes sociales. Cuantas más personas tenemos con nosotros, más poderosos nos volvemos.

“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!