Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción (CIMA) connects, strengthens and organizes communities to take action for immigrants rights in Western North Carolina.
Our organization is passionately dedicated to addressing the political-social context of the Latinx immigrant community through community defense, outreach, and education. We seek to create an integrated, informed, and prepared community in which people take care of each other and build collective power.
Woven throughout all of our work is advocacy. CIMA organizes advocacy around policies that could undermine or support immigrant rights. We participate in statewide and regional immigrant rights coalitions in order to better inform and activate our community. CIMA also advocates directly with institutions to reduce or eliminate barriers that limit immigrants’ access to services and resources.
CIMA is committed to weaving a web of protection, active resistance, education, resilience, resources, healing, critical thinking, and transformation in the immigrant community.
CIMA has two main program areas: Defensa Comunitaria and Community Outreach.
Defensa Comunitaria is a program that builds, sustains, and adapts infrastructure to respond to the needs of our community. The components of this infrastructure include:
Consulta Tu Compa works to provide one-on-one support to community members, and is often the first point of contact that community members have with our organization. Consulta provides resource and referral, advocacy, and accompaniment with community members to resolve their needs, including housing instability, financial crisis, and wage theft. Consulta provides one-on-one support, and also works to identify patterns to bring community members together to seek collective solutions to complex problems. Consulta has open office hours, and also offers appointments outside of office hours.
Linea Comunitaria is a 24-hour hotline that community members can call when there is a crisis. While the hotline is focused on providing support surrounding law enforcement and ICE presence in our communities, community members often call with a variety of needs. If the call is better suited for Consulta support, the Linea refers them to Consulta staff. If the call is around a polimigra rapid response need, the Linea activates the Verifiers/A-team to respond.
Rapid Response Network is a coordinated network of volunteers who add capacity to CIMA staff in order to best respond to community members’ needs. Our volunteers include Verifiers, A Team members, and the WNC Sanctuary Movement. These volunteers may be activated by Consulta to provide direct support, or by the Linea to respond to law enforcement or ICE activity.
Defensa Comunitaria actively collaborates and networks with other grassroots organizations, agencies, and institutions to ensure increased impact and effectiveness of CIMA’s work.
Defensa Comunitaria actively builds trusting relationships with community members, and is centered on the belief that community members are experts in their lives and that all people deserve access and justice.
CIMA’s Community Outreach team builds relationships with community members who are not yet connected to CIMA, and provides opportunities for ongoing engagement for those who are. Staff and volunteers make door to door visits, have a presence at community gatherings and public spaces, and host community programming and events. By being available and responsive, we are able to activate people who are ready to be a part of our work.
The goal of outreach is to increase the number of community members connected to and with CIMA. We provide opportunities for community members to engage more actively in the work, and grow as leaders. This work builds connection and mutual commitment.
Outreach ensures that community members know how to connect with CIMA, and also that CIMA is hearing the ever evolving realities and priorities of our community. These relationships and dialogue inform CIMA’s programs, advocacy, and strategic direction.
Based in Asheville, the Coalición de Organizaciones Latino-Americanas (COLA) formed out of a need for Latinx-led organizations in Western North Carolina mountain counties to connect, learn from each other, and work together. The Center for Participatory Change, an organization that supports grassroots organizations in the region, realized that although they were working with several Latinx organizations, it seemed these groups were not working with one another. In some cases, these groups did not even know that other regional Latinx organizations existed.
In October 2002, these groups came together for the first Encuentro, or gathering. COLA was established as a regional network connecting and strengthening 25 organizations that empower Latinx communities in Western North Carolina.
Over time, the organization’s focus moved from working closely with organizations toward connecting and working with individuals living in WNC. Thus, in November 2015, we changed our name to Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción (CIMA) to better reflect this focus.