We believe families belong together – not in cages or jails.

You asked for it – and we delivered! Today we officially launched a statewide toolkit designed to provide content, resources, materials, and strategy that will help local communities keep ICE out of Iowa.

Read the full toolkit here. 

Why a toolkit?

In June, we held a series of ‘Keep ICE Out of Iowa’ meetings across the state. Hundreds of you gathered together for in-depth discussions with national immigrant rights organizers about how everyday people could create safer communities for all while blocking ICE operations in our own neighborhoods.

We covered a lot of material during those discussions. Folks had a lot of great ideas – and many wanted to do more in their own towns. We created this toolkit to give you a starting point to organize in your own communities.

How was this toolkit created?

Iowa CCI and American Friends Service Committee spent the next two months reviewing feedback from these events and surveyed immigrant families in Central Iowa. We asked families to identify fears and concerns they had with living and working in Iowa. We also reviewed the anti-immigrant law Senate File 481 and projected potential issues that law would cause for immigrant families and people of color.

We took ALL of this information a began crafting local solutions that would address these problems, create safer and more welcoming communities, and most importantly – get ICE out of Iowa.

How do I use this toolkit?

This toolkit is intended to meet people where they are at in their communities. Some folks have strong connections with immigrant families and are ready to push elected officials for bold solutions while others may be just beginning to organize around immigrant rights. Either way, the information in this toolkit will guide you in the right direction.

In order to make the most of this guide, it’s up to you to take action and get the ball rolling. We’re here to help you along the way.

What information is in the toolkit?

This toolkit covers a wide range of topics from educational efforts like ‘Know Your Rights’ information and trainings to rapid response planning in preparation for potential ICE raids to organizing campaigns that call on elected officials to implement progressive policies and practices that benefit immigrant families.

Read the full toolkit here.

Want to get more involved?

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!

CCI members and staff went to a Des Moines Target  to stand in solidarity with our friends at Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Luchas –
Center for Workers United in the Struggle (CTUL).
CTUL is an organizational ally located in Minneapolis.

CTUL has been organizing cleaning workers for some time now and they have a campaign targeted at Target.

Target in the Twin Cities, Des Moines, and other locations subcontract their cleaning services. Workers are paid poverty wages. Target has the power, as one of the largest companies in our country, to hold their subcontracted companies to a higher standard – they can demand they pay a living wage.

The Minnesota Department of Health recently published a report that links poverty wages to health disparities. The report shows that workers earning poverty wages are more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes and are more prone to stress and other ailments when compared to higher wage earners. These workers live on average 8 years less.

We delivered this letter to a Des Moines Target and requested information on who they contract with to clean their stores.


Hubbell Homes, one of the largest residential builders in central Iowa, has adopted an anti wage theft provision into the company’s subcontractor agreements.

The company’s move comes after an impressive 8-month organizing campaign packed with people power from CCI members. On Nov. 21, CCI members gave a powerful presentation around wage theft and the new provision to more than 60 of Hubbell Homes’ trade partners and subcontractors at the Copper Creek Golf Course in Pleasant Hill.

The provision states:

“Payment of Employees and Sub-Sub Contractors—The Subcontractor shall comply with federal, state and local wage and hour laws, tax laws, social security acts, unemployment compensation acts and workers’ compensation acts insofar as applicable to the performance of this Subcontract, including all city, state and federal wage and hour laws.  The Subcontractor shall timely pay all employees and sub-sub contractors.  FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION MAY RESULT IN TERMINATION OF THIS SUB-CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT.”

This means that if any subcontractor is found to be engaging in wage theft at a Hubbell Homes project, it could have its contract terminated.

“We want our businesses to behave in an ethical way that lifts up and supports the community, and creates a good working environment that does not tolerate wage theft or any unscrupulous business practices,” said CCI member Cherie Mortice.

The presentation discussed the impacts of wage theft in Iowa, highlighting figures from our report on wage theft, and letting people know how by organizing workers for change, CCI worked to get Hubbell Homes to include anti wage theft language in their business agreements.

“We do want to collaborate with ICCI and appreciate the importance of subcontractors paying their employees and their sub-subcontractors,” wrote Dan Cornelison, VP and legal counsel of Hubbell Homes in an e-mail to Iowa CCI organizing staff.

Iowa CCI had heard of at least 5 cases of wage theft by subcontractors on Hubbell Homes projects, which is why in August, a team of CCI leaders met with Rick Tollakson, president and CEO of Hubbell Homes to negotiate the anti wage theft policy proposal.

We deal with the individual subcontractors separately, but this time we also went up the power tree to demand those at the top to stop doing business with shady entities that steal wages from workers.

In September, CCI members Jose Olivares and Miguel Afanador, recovered over $2,000 in wages from the unscrupulous subcontractor at a Hubbell Homes project. Hubbell Homes also terminated its contract with this subcontractor.

Iowa CCI members are planning to meet again with Hubbell Homes in the Spring of 2013. See the slides from our presentation: Presentation to Hubbell Homes on Wage Theft 


Learn more

Join the Fight

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates.
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With today’s action, CCI members have moved over $55,000 out of Wells Fargo this year

Iowa CCI members moved over $20,000 out of Wells Fargo in another powerful “Move Our Money” day of action, while a dozen others were there to cheer them on and send a strong message to corporate behemoths. Fed up with Wells Fargo’s financing of the private prison and payday loan industry, and their questionable lending practices targeting communities of color, CCI members have been moving their money out of the bank.

CCI member Tracy Bougher, who had been a customer of Wells Fargo for 40 years, finally said enough was enough. He closed his account today, along with his wife Karen.

“It had been a long time coming – I wasn’t going to let them keep nickling and dimeing everyday people. I am very happy I did this,” said CCI member Tracy Bougher.


Since May, over 25 accounts have been closed and today’s action put us at over $55,000 total moved out of Wells Fargo. A recent report released by National People’s Action and the Public Accountability Initiative revealed Wells Fargo’s deep ties and investments in the private prison industry. These findings prompted an intense month-long media blitz along with nationwide affiliates of the National People’s Action network. You can read the full report  and sign a petition here.

“As long as they keep investing in industries that destroy the community, we are done having accounts with Wells Fargo,”  said CCI member Nataly Espinoza, who closed her account with Wells Fargo at the end of 2011. “It is important for all of us to come out and support those taking action today,” she said.

In preparation for today’s Move Our Money action, Latino CCI members had been educating people through Spanish-language media on how private prisons are destroying immigrant communities, revealing the data on Wells Fargo’s investments and financing of private prisons, and encouraging Latinos to move their money in protest of the bank’s investments.

CCI received several calls and stories of people with terrible experiences with the bank, shocked at the fact that not only Wells Fargo was individually taking from them, but that it was also invested in the incarceration of immigrants.

And our actions are working! Last week, SEC filings made public showed that Wells Fargo dumped 75 percent of its aggregate holdings in the GEO Group, the nation’s second largest private prison company!

“It is good news to see that our campaign has caused Wells Fargo to dump part of their stock in GEO Group, but we must not let our guard down,” said CCI member Victor Torres.

“Wells Fargo is still investing and financing other private prison companies, we want them to dump all of their stock and stop lending money to private prisons,” he said. Victor closed his account at CCI’s first Move Our Money day in June.

Iowa CCI will keep encouraging Wells Fargo customers across Iowa to close their accounts until the bank pledges to stop profiting at the expense of immigrant detention and discriminatory lending practices.

Here are some pictures from today’s action:

Created with flickr slideshow.

LIKE and TWEET to give CCI members a virtual high five for moving their money!

Learn More

  • Interested in moving your money? Read more.
  • Click here to read more on our work to hold Wells Fargo accountable.

Join the Fight

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates.
  • Follow us on Facebook and  Twitter for more fun photos and live action updates.