“[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.



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 


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.


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

Thank you to the ACLU for providing this information, which is not intended as legal advice.

Your Rights

You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.

You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car, or your home.

If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.

You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.

Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.


Your Responsibilities 

Do stay calm and be polite.

Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.

Do not lie or give false documents.

Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.

Do remember the details of the encounter.

Do file a written complaint or contact your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.


Read more detail on your rights, here.


Former Mexican police officer denied asylum in US shows need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform now

Des Moines, IA.  On Sunday night Constantino Morales, a community leader on immigration issues in Iowa, was shot and killed after being deported to Mexico on September 2, 2014.  Constantino, a former police officer for the Guerrero State Police Force in Mexico, came to the United States in 2010 after being assaulted three times by armed men and receiving threats while working.

In 2011, Constantino joined Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement when he experienced wage theft in Iowa and racial profiling by the local police departments.  He became more involved in immigrant justice issues and quickly became a community leader in Des Moines, helping lead actions related to immigration reform, sharing his testimony and getting others in the community involved in fighting for fair and just immigration reform.

In 2011 Constantino received his first notice to appear before court for residing in the US without documentation. Due to the fact that he had been a police officer in Mexico, Constantino told the immigration judge that he was scared to return home, the judge told him to apply for asylum. He applied for asylum in June 2013 and was denied asylum on February 27, 2014.

He didn’t stop there.  Members of the community started a “Stop Constantino’s Deportation” campaign.  Community leaders and Constantino met with former Congressman Latham, Senator Grassley, Des Moines Sherriff Bill McCarthy, State Legislators, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) staff and other appointed and elected officials who could have weighed in to stop Constantino’s deportation.  They also started asking other Iowans to write letters and make phone calls to ICE to ask them to cancel the deportation – generating hundreds of postcards and over 200 calls to ICE.

As a former Mexican police officer who stood up to publicly against drug trafficking he knew that if he returned to Mexico he would face grave danger.

At a meeting on August 6, 2013, Constantino told Rep. Latham, “If I am sent back, I will face more violence and I could lose my life. We are in severe need of fair immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. We don’t want any excuses; we know you can make this happen.”

In April 2014, CCI members were in Washington D.C. and pleaded with Senator Grassley to take action to stop Constantino’s deportation.

On April 21, 2014, Iowa CCI sent a second request for prosecutorial discretion, with letters of support from Des Moines Sherriff Bill McCarthy and Iowa State Representative Bruce Hunter, but the request was denied.  Prosecutorial discretion is the authority of an agency or officer  to exercise discretion in deciding when to prosecute and when not to prosecute based on a priority system has long been recognized as a critical part of U.S. law.  Specifically, prosecutorial discretion may be exercised when deciding whether to: issue a detainer; initiate removal proceedings; focus enforcement resources on particular violations or conduct; stop, question, or arrest a particular person; detain or release someone on bond, supervision, or personal recognizance; settle or dismiss a removal case; stay a final order of removal; pursue an appeal; and/or execute a removal order.

The news of Constantino’s death has saddened and angered the Latino and Immigrant Rights Community.

“This tragedy could have been prevented,”  said Luis Rodriguez, CCI Leader.  “People are dying while Congress and our elected officials fail to act. How many more people have to die?”

Every year, thousands of people are torn apart from their families and deported back to Mexico and other Latin American countries.  There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States that live in the shadows, who fear deportation.

CCI and other community leaders are planning a vigil to honor and remember Constantino and his passion for helping undocumented immigrants escape from the shadows.  More details to come about time, date and location of vigil. Constantino Morales is survived by a wife and six children.


Join the Fight

  • Contact us for more information. !Hablamos español!
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List