Salvador Lara’s story has been gaining attention throughout the state with several newspaper articles and hundreds of phone calls and letters on his behalf.  It has brought attention the dark side of President Obama’s immigration program “Secure Communities” and the need for the DREAM Act and humane immigration reform.

Two newspapers ran feature articles:

Times Republican: Support for Salvador: Friends back MHS grad facing deportation

Des Moines Register: Scores in Marshalltown back illegal immigrant who faces big price for a small crime

The Des Moines Register wrote a great staff editorial:

[box] People like Lara show need for reform

He came to U.S. as a child but now faces deportation

Salvador Lara was 14 when his sister brought him to Iowa from the streets of Mexico City.

He didn’t realize he was here illegally. Even children who do understand their immigration status likely don’t understand the implications for the future.

They attend school and play sports and earn money mowing lawns. They go about the business of childhood just like their peers. Then they grow up. And things get more complicated.

You need to prove your identity to move forward in life. Without proper documentation, like a Social Security card or birth certificate, you cannot get some jobs or a driver’s permit or financial aid for college. You realize you have to lie to build any kind of normal life. You tolerate being wronged by landlords or employers or neighbors because you don’t want to come to anyone’s attention.

Though you consider the United States your home, you are forced to live in the shadows as an adult. The fear of deportation always hangs over your head.

Salvador Lara, now 25, has lived in Marshalltown since coming to the U.S.. He is now in the Marshall County Jail facing deportation to Mexico.

His story, recently detailed on the front page of The Des Moines Register, is yet another example of the devastation caused by this country’s immigration laws and Congress’ refusal to enact reform.

Changing immigration law isn’t only about providing people a legal way to enter the United States and work. It’s not just about patrolling the border to catch those sneaking across. It’s about creating a path for people brought to this country illegally as children to gain legal status and remain.

Many Washington lawmakers say they sympathize with people like Lara. Unfortunately, they don’t support policies to help them. The U.S. government has, in some ways, made matters worse with initiatives like Secure Communities.

The program allows police to compare the fingerprints of people in local jails against a federal immigration database. Public support is widespread when people with extensive criminal records are nabbed.

But Lara wasn’t a felon. He didn’t have a lengthy record. Instead, he was charged with fifth-degree theft after he picked up and kept a money bag that he found in a parking lot.

He was fined $85. But he was snared by the Secure Communities program. Now he waits to join the nearly 170,000 other people in this country who have been deported since the program’s inception.

More than 150 people in Marshalltown have written letters or called immigration authorities on Lara’s behalf. His high school teachers remember him as a leader dedicated to learning English. He’s been a soccer coach and a caregiver for a dying family member and has worked in restaurants.

He said he refused to buy fake papers to help him get a job in a meatpacking plant because he didn’t want to steal anyone’s identity. “If you’re going to commit a crime to get a job, I’d rather not do it,” he said.

Being deported means he will have to leave his family and the country he knows best and go back to Mexico, where he says he doesn’t have family.

Lara is not a bad person. He is yet another example of why humane and sensible immigration reform is overdue.

– Des Moines Register Staff Editorial, March 2, 2012 [/box]

 

Pass these stories on to your friends and family! They are good examples of why we need human immigration reform, not unforgiving enforcement-only programs.

We have some good news for you!

Local factory farm owner Ryan Roberts officially withdrew his plans to expand his KK Finishers – Penn Township – factory farm site.  This win comes after a month of hard work. Members worked together to organize opposition, expose the problems with his plan and move the county supervisors to ultimately vote to deny the site.

Here is just some of what local Iowa CCI members did:

  • In December we had great attendance at the first public hearing with the supervisors on the two proposed Robertson factory farm sites.
  • We got the County Supervisors to re-score the matrix for one of the sites based on problems we identified.
  • We held a meeting with top DNR officials who agreed to look into our concerns about “double dipping”  on  their manure management plans on the Brighton Finisher site.
  • The supervisors listened to us and removed “points” on the matrix application for Robertson’s KK Finishers site, essentially ensuring that the application will be rejected.

Working with all of you in Jefferson County has really reminded me of what I love about Iowa CCI – everyday people, refusing to sit back and let things happen. That, paired with the organizing assistance and research assistance members get from our staff, is a powerful force that can’t be beaten!

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has a long history of working with local communities, like yours, to stop factory farm construction and working at the state and national level to put people and our environment before factory farm polluters.

Massive principal reduction beyond the scope of Miller’s settlement is needed

 

Iowa AG Tom Miller announced today the end of his investigation into the mortgage and foreclosure practices of the largest mortgage servicers. This settlement is the first step in what is shaping up to be a long fight to stabilize the economy through massive principal reduction.

While many are giving this settlement a glowing review, we know it is a drop in the bucket compared to the ongoing mortgage crisis – and is chump change compared to the excessive bonus pool of these same big banks.

Despite its flaws, the settlement announced today is stronger than it would have otherwise been thanks to direct pressure from grassroots groups across the country – like you.

Here’s our breakdown of the AG settlement, agreed to by 49 out of 50 state Attorneys General (Oklahoma being the only holdout):

The Good:

  • The settlement does not release the banks from criminal prosecution, and NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation into financial fraud will be able to move forward. Iowa CCI and the New Bottom Line have been fighting to keep options for future investigations open for a long time.

The Bad:

  • Homeowners who were victims of wrongful foreclosures will receive just $2,000. Compared to what these families lost and continued to struggle with today, this really isn’t much.

The Ugly:

  • The principal reduction piece of this settlement is very, very small. The banks here have committed to just $17 billion in principal reduction. Compared to the $700 billion underwater mortgage problem, this is absolutely minuscule.

What comes next?

The housing market isn’t going to reset itself, and if the housing market isn’t reset we won’t see any real economic recovery for a long time.  We will continue to:

  • Be a part of the nationwide fight for massive principal reduction – at least $300 billion. Read our Iowa Underwater report to learn how principal reductions are a win/win for everyone.
  • Confront corporate power at the big banks’ shareholder meetings this spring.
  • Keep pressure on President Obama and AG Schneiderman’s investigation to make sure they do the right thing as well.

This is an important fight, and the future of homeownership in America and the stability of our local economies will depend on what happens in the next few months.

Be a part of the movement for an economy that works for all – join as an Iowa CCI member today!

Keep checking this website for more information, and click “Like” and “Tweet” below to spread our message far and wide!

 

A new and exciting campaign is being launched this week across the country.

It is no secret that the largest corporations in the country – the Wells Fargos, the Wal-Marts, and the Verizons – are undermining our democracy, poisoning our environment and widening the gap between rich and poor.

The question is, are you ready to do something more to confront corporate power? Something big. Something that will take all of us.

Iowa CCI is joining with thousands of workers, retirees, families fighting foreclosure, the unemployed, students, immigrants and environmentalists to confront abusive corporate power head on. This is an unprecedented group of national organizing networks coming together to demand corporate accountability at shareholder meetings this spring.

Our demands are precise and simple: corporations must pay their fair share of taxes, treat workers fairly, provide principal reduction to protect homeowners, pledge to keep money out of the election, and shift investments away from abusive private prisons and fossil fuels and into job creation and renewable energy.

Will you pledge to be a part of building this movement of and for the 99 percent?

This week is just the beginning. We have the rare opportunity to create a powerful shift in our country. It’s a “go big or go home” moment, and I say let’s go big together. There is a critical role for you to play in this movement to take our country back, whether you are at home, in the streets or in the boardroom. You are invited. You are needed.

Help us make sure that corrupt CEOs and Boards of Directors wake up every morning thinking about the 99%. Join us in the movement to confront corporate power.

You can stay up to date on this new movement by checking our calendar regularly for updates. In the meantime, click “Like” or “Tweet” below to spread this news far and wide:

But sweetheart AG settlement still a real possibility

 

Congratulations! President Obama has heard the calls of the 99% and announced a full, federal investigation into the fraudulent activities of big banks.

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama said:

“We’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable so crises like this never happen again … I intend to fight obstruction with action … And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”

Congratulations to all of you who fought for and won this amazing victory. This wouldn’t have happened without you.

Now we need to make sure that this investigation has real teeth-that all administration resources go to uncovering the truth about the activities of the big banks.

And in order to provide real and meaningful relief to millions of homeowners, the end result must be at least $300 billion in principal reduction and restitution for those who have lost their homes, especially targeted to the most hard hit communities. This will reset the housing market and the economy.

In the meantime, there is still a sweetheart deal in the works between state Attorneys General and the big banks. We must continue to fight and make sure the banks are held accountable for their crimes and that any agreement will not interfere with President Obama’s promised comprehensive investigation.

If you haven’t yet called President Obama to tell him “no sweeheart deals – we need a full investigation,” please call him today!

Click “like” or “tweet” to spread this action far and wide:

BREAKING NEWS from our friends at the New Bottom Line coalition:

It’s the eleventh hour and the White House is about to strike a deal with big banks.

President Obama wants to be able to point to a big bank foreclosure settlement in Tuesday’s State of the Union as a measure of progress towards more Wall Street accountability. But the deal on the table is appalling, especially when compared to 2011 big bank bonuses.

Proposed total restitution for the millions of Americans who lost their home due to illegal foreclosure tactics: $20 billion. 1

2011 big bank bonuses: $144 billion. 2

Something is very wrong with this picture.

$20 billion is only a fraction of what is needed to reduce principal balances on millions of underwater homes; it is shameless that the White House isn’t demanding more money for principal reduction from the same big banks that crashed the economy.

Can you call the White House right now and tell them to launch a full investigation into Wall Street and make sure big banks are held fully accountable for the crimes that caused so many to lose their homes?

Right now big banks are sitting on an unprecedented mountain of cash: over $1.6 trillion. According to The New Bottom Line’s Pulling Back the Curtain report, big banks are set to award $144 billion in bonuses and compensation for 2011. The money is there.

We need the President to make sure Americans get back to work and keep their homes, not pad the pockets of the wealthiest Americans. He can do this by launching a full investigation of Wall Street, not just letting big banks off with the current sweetheart deal that is on the table.

Call the White House today and demand that any settlement with big banks:

1. Includes at least $300 billion in principal reduction

2. Includes a full investigation into Wall Street conduct leading up to and a during the financial crisis

3. Does not include blanket immunity for big banks from future legal challenges

 
Footnotes:  
1 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/van-jones/obama-housing_b_1221921.html?ref=politics
2 http://www.newbottomline.com/the_new_bottom_line_releases_pulling_back_the_curtain_exposing_the_1_behind_the_2011_big_bank_bonuses

 

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