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Advocates Hold Teach-ins on Resisting Iowa's New Immigration Law

Immigrants, most of them from Mexico, make up 5 percent of Iowa's population. (
Immigrants, most of them from Mexico, make up 5 percent of Iowa's population. (
June 18, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa's Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) will host three meetings this week to inform residents how to counter the state's new anti-sanctuary law that takes effect July 1.

Under the law, a city or county government would lose state funding if it failed to enforce federal immigration laws.

This week's meetings come days after a new report showed nearly 45 children a day were separated from their parents while trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks.

CCI community organizer Madeline Cano says the meetings will discuss best practices to protect and organize families and limit actions by ICE agents.

"Keeping families together 100 percent needs to happen,” she stresses. “It should not have had to take putting children in cages for us to acknowledge that this is a problem and to do something about it."

Iowa doesn't have any designated sanctuary cities, but Iowa lawmakers in passing the bill said lenient public safety policies in Iowa City and Johnson County made the law necessary.

Critics say it will lead to racial profiling.

CCI will host meetings this week in Iowa City, Des Moines and Marshalltown. Dates and locations can be found at

Cano says instead of arresting immigrants, Iowa should be embracing them to fill its large worker shortage.

She notes that as Iowans continue to move from rural to urban areas, many immigrants have filled the lowest-paid jobs at the state’s pork, egg and turkey plants, and contribute to Iowa's economy.

"What we're seeing in places like Storm Lake and West Liberty is that these communities are now thriving,” she points out. “Generations have been there and now there is harmony, which has taken a long time to get there, but I think both of those communities are models for what rural Iowa could be."

Cano maintains it's important to establish community response teams ahead of the law taking effect July 1 to prevent what happened in Mount Pleasant in May, when ICE raided Midwest Precast Concrete and arrested 32 workers on administrative immigration violations.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA