“[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: 

Fellow CCI member, activist, and friend, Constantino Morales, is still in deportation proceedings.

We need you to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials TODAY and ask them to stop Constantino’s deportation. Call Scott Baniecke, ICE Field Director at (952) 853-5900 and press option 9.

Thanks to you, ICE has received over 100 calls and Constantino is so grateful. Unfortunately, ICE denied our first request. But, we have sent a second request to ICE that has support from Polk Country Sheriff Bill McCarthy and Representative Bruce Hunter. Your continued action is crucial.

Here’s a little background on Constantino: Due to personal and safety circumstances in his hometown of Huehuetán, Mexico, Constantino applied for political asylum here in the U.S., but after a long process, his request was recently denied. He may be detained and deported at any time, which would put his life risk in Mexico.

Constantino is an active leader in his community. He fought alongside us in our campaign for immigration reform, and has inspired many to take action on issues affecting immigrants in Iowa.

ICE has the discretion to stop Constantino’s deportation. Will you call ICE TODAY and ask them to stop Constantino’s deportation?

Step 1: Dial Scott Baniecke, ICE Field Director at (952) 853-5900, and press option 9.

Step 2: Ask ICE to stop Constantino’s deportation:

“Hi, I am calling to ask ICE to exercise prosecutorial discretion in the case of Constantino Morales (A# 200 588 443). Constantino is a hardworking community leader who has stood up for workers’ and immigrants’ rights in Iowa, and he faces threat of violence if he is deported to Mexico. He deserves an opportunity to remain unharmed, and he is a low-priority case that should not be removed from the United States. Please stop Constantino’s deportation!

*Please note that some of the phone calls have been answered by those who attempt to shame Constantino’s name and direct you to another ICE office. If this happens, please do not be discouraged – express your support and ask Field Officer Director Baniecke to stop Constantino’s deportation. You are calling the correct field office.

Step 3: Reply to this email to let us know how your call went.

As lawmakers in Washington DC fail to fix our broken immigration system, good hard-working citizens like Constantino continue to suffer at their expense. In times like these, we must come together and stand up for justice.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.


Join the Fight!

This piece originally appeared in the Des Moines Register’s print edition on March 17th, 2013. The Register’s online version can be found here: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130417/OPINION01/304170042/0/BIZ01/?odyssey=nav|head

We’ve heard a lot about immigration reform lately. It’s been in the news, and it’s being discussed in Congress. At Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, we hear heart-wrenching stories every week from people trapped in a broken system.

Take Maria Hernandez. She had been waiting for months, not able to travel outside the United States because she was getting her immigration papers in order. One night last November, she got a call from family in Mexico: Her mother had just died. Maria’s world came crashing down because she could not go to Mexico to say her final goodbye to the person she loved most in this world.

Maria and 11 million other undocumented immigrants are caught up in a system that tears apart families, communities and lives.

Chances are, you know someone like Maria. She could be the mother of your child’s best friend, the coach of your daughter’s soccer team or the person who cleans your office late at night. She could be the person who checks you in at your favorite hotel, a caretaker at your child’s day care or the volunteer you see at church or school.

People like Maria are our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers. They are an essential part of our communities and lives.

Millions of undocumented immigrants have lived and worked in the United States for decades. They have jobs, lives, families, friends and communities they call home.

Our communities desperately need fair immigration reform because — whether we admit it or not — we’re all in this together.

But the main proposal that will be debated soon in Congress — the one from the bipartisan “Gang of 8” in the Senate, the one that’s getting the most media attention — doesn’t do nearly enough to address the problems we are all facing. It would disqualify millions of hopeful Americans.

Half of our undocumented neighbors would have to sacrifice almost one-third of their annual income to afford the proposed penalty that could total over $10,000.

Four million friends could be excluded from citizenship by an overly restrictive English proficiency requirement that targets the young, elderly and mentally disabled.

One million community members — mostly women who take care of families, homes and work informally — could be excluded by unrealistic proof-of-work requirements. And many more, possibly millions, could be disqualified for minor traffic violations, or for working without documents to feed their families.

For everyone’s sake, we are asking Congress and President Obama to support an immigration reform proposal based on these principles:

Focus on inclusion, not exclusion: We should provide pathways to citizenship within a reasonable amount of time, not a decade. And citizenship should not be limited to a very small group of specialized workers, or people with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. Comprehensive immigration reform should also maintain protections and pathways for future immigrants to the U.S.

Border security can’t trump legalization: We can’t wait until “borders are secure” to begin providing pathways to citizenship. We already have a lot of money and resources invested in border security.

End deportations and harsh enforcement: $18 billion was spent on immigration enforcement last year — more than all other major federal law enforcement agencies combined. We need to put an end to deportations and harsh enforcement. ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) raids are inhumane, destroy communities and spread fear.

Protect labor and civil rights: We need stronger protections for immigrant workers against exploitation and abuse. Unscrupulous employers underpay and exploit cheap immigrant labor, and some use the threat of deportation to keep immigrant workers quiet.

We need to act now. Let’s make fair immigration reform a reality for ourselves and all the Marias we know.

Salvador Lara came to the United States when he was 14 years old to live with his sister’s family in Marshalltown, Iowa, and has been an active member of his community ever since.

He was detained by ICE two weeks ago in Marshalltown, Iowa and is being held in Marshall County Jail. If Salvador was deported he would have no family and no community to go back to.

Last year the Obama Administration directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to make deportations of young people who could qualify for the DREAM Act a low priority.

ICE Director John Morton needs to hear that Salvador Lara’s community and future is here in the United States and he should not be deported!

Salvador needs your help!

Join others in calling to John Morton, Director of ICE and tell him to follow Obama’s directive and not deport Salvador.


Iowa CCI supports the DREAM Act – a bill that would give immigrant students the opportunity to study and work in the United States. Salvador was an active leader of CCI’s Dream Team. He met with Senator Grassley and other legislators and engaged his peers to support the DREAM Act in 2010. Instead of deportation, young immigrants with full potential like Salvador should be able to further their education and use their skills to improve our communities. For more information on the DREAM Act, click here.

More about Salvador:

Salvador lives with his sister’s family in Marshalltown, Iowa and is an important part of his nieces and nephews’ lives. He went to Marshalltown High School and after graduation attended Marshalltown Community College until his family could not afford to send him to school anymore.

After leaving college Salvador continued to be an active member of the Marshalltown community. He volunteers his time to coach 6th through 8th grade soccer teams at the local school and also volunteered at the Marshalltown Public Library. He worked with Latina girls to form the first all-latina soccer team in Marshalltown by helping them raise money for uniforms and coach the team.

Your calls will make the difference!

Click here to make the call


Calls are faster and more effective, so please make a call. Once you’ve made the call please contact us by emailing Ruth Schultz at ruth @ iowacci.org so we can track how many calls we’ve generated.


If you would like to write a letter send it to:

Director John Morton

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

500 12th St., SW

Washington, D.C. 20536


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