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

 

Yesterday, CCI member Emma Schmit drove two hours — each direction — to give two minutes of testimony at the Statehouse.

Why? Because she is surrounded by factory farms which is causing her hometown, Rockwell City, to wither on the vine.

Emma was one of over 50 CCI members — representing 22 counties — who testified at Tuesday’s Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) meeting. We were there to sound the alarm that Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is still not in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. 

If you believe, like Emma does, that we deserve to have the Clean Water Act fully implemented for existing factory farms in Iowa — I’m asking you to chip in $20, $25 or more if possible today to ramp up the public pressure.

Five years ago, thanks to your relentless pressure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) forced the Iowa DNR to sign a 5-year Work Plan to bring Iowa into compliance with the Clean Water Act for factory farms.  As a key deadline approaches this August, DNR will be submitting their progress report.

On paper, the DNR hopes to show they’ve checked all the boxes. But with a record number of impaired waterbodies and beach advisories, Iowans know that’s not the case.

In a letter we submitted to the EPA on Tuesday, we laid out the case for why we the DNR is still not in compliance with the Clean Water Act.  The DNR:

  • has not assessed and inspected all 5,000 “unknown” facilities that flew in under the radar.
  • does not have enough resources or inspectors to oversee this industry
  • has failed to issue a single Clean Water Act permit to a polluting hog factory farm.
  • does not have consistency and compliance with inspections and record keeping.

A total of 15 organization signed on in support of our letter.  You can watch our press conference here.

Our eyes are on the August Work Plan deadline and a clean water Iowa. We can’t let DNR off the hook — and we need to make sure EPA doesn’t, either.  Our water is too important.

Luckily, organized action is what CCI members do best.

In the next few months, we’re:

  • ramping up pressure on DNR in person and in the media to continue to sway public opinion towards a moratorium;
  • moblizing and engaging thousands of Iowans who care about our air and water to help us build the public record that DNR is still not in compliance with the Clean Water Act; and
  • building our legal case with our allies at Food and Water Watch, to make sure existing factory farms in Iowa are held to higher standards under the Clean Water Act.

Now is not a time to back down. More and more Iowans are fed up. One if five Iowa counties are calling for action to stop factory farms.

Help us keep the fight to say NO MORE factory farms and YES to clean water hot through the summer and into the election.

Can you chip in $20, $25, $50 or more to make sure we can deliver our clean water message to more Iowans than ever before?

We deserve to have the Clean Water Act fully implemented for existing factory farms in Iowa. And, we can’t just continue adding factory farms to our landscape — we need a moratorium.

THEY dump it. YOU drink it. WE won’t stop ’til THEY clean it up!

(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!

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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.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
CONTACT: Jess Mazour, 515-282-0484 or jess@iowacci.org

 

One Hundred People Gather at Iowa Select Headquarters to Demand an End to Jeff Hansen’s Factory Farm Expansion
Factory farm fighters from across the state stand together calling for a moratorium

Iowa Falls, IA – This afternoon, nearly one hundred people gathered at Iowa Select’s office in Iowa Falls to demand CEO Jeff Hansen withdraw all pending factory farm applications and immediately stop building factory farms. With over 500 factory farms, Iowa Select is the largest pork producer in the state and has been expanding aggressively in the past year, despite mounting public calls for clean water and a moratorium.

“Iowa Select is expanding rapidly all across Iowa with no concern for our rural communities, our health, our water, or our air,” said Julie Duhn, a CCI member from Eldora. “As you can see from all the people here, this is a statewide fightback, and our only hope of stopping this out-of-control industry is if we fight back together. We can’t back down now, or big money corporations like Iowa Select will just continue exploiting us.”

“Factory farms dump pollution on our beautiful state and the industry doesn’t even pretend to care. Our legislators apparently don’t care, either. Since our politicians appear to be bought and sold by the industry, our communities have been stripped of local control with virtually no protections from factory farm pollution,” said Nick Schutt, a CCI member from Alden. “We’re left with no other choice than to take our message directly to Jeff Hansen and demand he stop this out-of-control expansion.”

In 2017, the Hansen family donated $275,000 to the gubernatorial campaign for Governor Kim Reynolds.

Community members delivered a letter to Hansen.

“Building factory farms is not Iowa nice. Polluting our precious water with millions of gallons of untreated manure is not Iowa nice. Sickening our communities with hazardous air emissions is not Iowa nice,” the letter read.

Iowa Select has been the subject of widespread scrutiny because of its massive factory farm expansion over the past year. Iowa CCI identified at least 27 factory farm applications associated with Iowa Select in the past six months, adding to more than 137,000 hogs. Iowa State University’s swine manure calculator estimates that this many finishing hogs would produce 57.5 million gallons of manure per year. These figures may be low, however, because Iowa Select uses various LLCs on their applications, making it difficult to identify all of their factory farms.

In an interview with Successful Farming last year, Hansen acknowledged that the new slaughterhouses coming online – including the Prestage slaughterhouse south of Eagle Grove – are driving his expansion.

The company also regularly builds factory farms just under the threshold that would trigger more state and local oversight. For instance, confinements with 2,500 head of hogs require the Master Matrix – but Iowa Select often avoids it by applying for confinements with 2,490 head of hogs.

“Iowa Select’s huge expansion is just one more sign that we need a factory farm moratorium now,” said Dave Haynes, a CCI member from Duncombe. “We’re at a tipping point. Enough is enough!”

“Iowa Select does not represent our vision for Iowa. We want more family farms, not fewer. We want clean water, not dirty water. We want thriving communities, not corporate-controlled communities,” said Emma Schmit, a CCI member from Rockwell City. “For that to happen, it takes all of us coming together in this battle of David vs. Goliath.”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a statewide, grassroots people’s action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics and polluters. CCI has been fighting to put people first for over 40 years. Follow us on Twitter at @iowacci.

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Join us on Tuesday, April 24 in Des Moines to confront Wells Fargo at their annual shareholder meeting and demand they put People and our Planet before corporate greed. RSVP and get more details here.

Wells Fargo’s abusive actions have hurt millions of people – everyone from students and veterans to homeowners in our community.

Or, as Saqib Bhatti, director of the Refund America Project, reminds usWells Fargo was “one of the leading banks when it came to mortgage discrimination, really targeting communities of color with predatory mortgages. In fact, workers from within the bank have come forth and said that within Wells Fargo, they referred to subprime mortgages as “ghetto loans,” and said that they were intended for “mud people.” This is a type of culture that you had within Wells Fargo. […] What we found is, time and again, it’s black and Latino communities that are targeted for the worst of Wells Fargo’s racist practices.”

Wells Fargo rakes in profits while our communities suffer.

Enough is enough. They’ve chosen to hold this national meeting in Des Moines, hoping to escape the protests that have dogged the event in recent yearsWe’ll converge on their annual shareholder meeting in downtown Des Moines and demand they put People and Planet first.

We’ll kick off this powerful day of action at 8:30am. RSVP and get more details here.