IMMIGRANT RIGHTS NETWORK OF IOWA
The Immigrant Rights Network of Iowa (IRNI) is a grassroots, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a broad-based statewide and regional network of organizations, individuals, immigrants and their allies. The mission of the IRNI is to facilitate full immigrant participation in decision-making processes, promote respect for immigrant contributions, and build inclusive communities. The IRNI strengthens, connects, unite and mobilizes immigrants to enhance their leadership, voice and power.
Network history: The network began in 1996 as a handful of individuals working to respond to INS raids on Iowa workplaces. In the first few years, we grew to a loose collection of approximately 300 individuals and organizations across Iowa with fairly effective reaction to raid crisis. In 1999, a bi-state cooperation was established for Iowa and Nebraska to share Iowa's experience in grassroots organizing with Nebraska's expertise in policy advocacy. The network has grown dramatically over the past several years, and has successfully engaged broad coalitions to stop “English Only” proposals at the local and county levels, and brought justice to exploited immigrant construction workers. Since 2005, it prioritized its efforts to focus on helping to pass positive comprehensive immigration reform legislation, building broad support for reform, and to channel this support through regional and national advocacy coalitions. On 2006 recipient of award from the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs in recognition of the immigrant movement and the events among our nation’s largest expression of inclusion in the American dream. Over the years, IRNI has built 14 chapters, strengthened immigrants across the state and 112 different organizations that provide a public voice for low-income people. We have cultivated 650 grassroots leaders in immigrant communities; provide 47 train the trainers across the state. On 2008 the network received the special recognition from newspaper The Heraldo Hispano for our work during the last immigration raids.
Network social change philosophy is one of grassroots empowerment and leadership development. This can be seen through the history of our network action and goals to strengthen our communities: Leadership Development, Grassroots Participation, Community Education, Civic Participation - Citizenship, Legislative Advocacy, Media Coverage; and to unite the various agencies, organization and individuals who desire reform in legal and social systems that would benefit immigrants.
All the IRNI boards of directors are immigrants and the Executive Director—Originally from Peru, Carlos Rios received an undergraduate degree in political science (1986) and a Juris Doctorate law degree (1989) in Peru. Before coming to Iowa, he worked for ten years in United Nations Peace-keeping Operations in Africa and Peace-building Operations in Central America. Carlos is one of the members of the United Nations was awarded by Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. He was also featured by Point Blank Newspaper in 2005 as the People Making a difference and creating a better Central Iowa.