Migrant Justice's groundbreaking organizing for human rights and food justice made headlines time and time again throughout the year. Both locally and nationally, Vermont immigrant farmworkers shaped the story on worker's rights, deportations, the dairy industry, the election, and sanctuary cities, to name just a few of the issues covered in 2016. Read more for a selection of headlines that tell the story of Migrant Justice in 2016.
This essay from Migrant Justice appeared as an op-ed in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and as an opinions column in the VT Digger
Along with many Vermonters, immigrant farmworkers in the Green Mountain state watched with increasing despair on election night, as precincts reported their votes and the sea of red swept westward across the country. Into the early hours of the morning, in trailers scattered throughout Vermont’s iconic working landscapes, immigrant farmworkers came to grips with the election’s results, a sensation no doubt familiar to many of their blue state neighbors. Yet for the state´s estimated 1,500 immigrant dairy workers, this sense of dread was far weightier.
The Migrant Justice community is hopeful that Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger follows through on his promise to make Burlington a Sanctuary City by taking the first step, which is for the Burlington Police Department to fully adopt all elements of the new state-wide Fair and Impartial Policing policy that Migrant Justice helped create. Any sanctuary city effort must be firmly rooted in a legal framework that defines a policy of no collaboration between local agencies and immigration enforcement efforts. We encourage our allies across the state of Vermont to build a corridor of cities and towns across Vermont that adopt all elements of the state-wide Fair and Impartial Policing Policy.
As Migrant Justice leader Roger Balcazar told News Channel 5 in a recent interview:
"Our work will be to continue our struggle for our rights, the one that we have been doing for so many years."
Burlington, VT. Leaders in Vermont’s immigrant farmworker community shared reactions today on yesterday’s election of Donald Trump.
In the face of the unprecedented division, fear, and hatred surrounding the Trump election, Migrant Justiceleaders, like Enrique Balcazar, are calling for unity and solidarity:
Said Enrique Balcazar, former dairy worker and organizer with Migrant Justice: “Our community has always suffered from oppression for the simple act of daring to survive, and we have always fought back. Trump’s election as President makes this oppression more evident than ever. We are all affected when one community is attacked and criminalized. It’s time for us all to come together to confront this new reality, united against fear.”
Said David Diaz, dairy worker and member of Migrant Justice’s Farmworker Coordinating Committee: “Now more than ever we must unite in the struggle for justice. If Trump carries out his election promises, it would forever change the United States. As a community we have achieved great things. Together we can fight to achieve much more.”
Vermont's #Not1More Movement Secures Another Release of VT Human Rights Leader from ICE Custody
ICE Drops Bail After Outpouring of Community Support
10/14/16 Burlington, VT--Vermont human rights leader Miguel Alcudia received a warm welcome by a group of friends last night after being released from ICE custody after spending three weeks in prison. In a rare exercise of discretion, ICE dropped Alcudia’s $21,000 bail altogether drawing upon its’ administrative powers to release immigration detainees like Alcudia who are not considered “priority” for deportation adding to questions of why Alcudia was detained in the first place. The release comes after a surge of immigrant detentions in Vermont in recent months and on the heels of broad region-wide support calling for the release of Alcudia including over 2 dozen letters of support from friends and community leaders, a series of rallies and a vibrant 150 person march to the Federal Building in Burlington VT, an action at the St. Albans’s ICE office and nearly 1500 online petition signatures calling for Alcudia’s immediate release.
Miguel was reunited with friends late last night and remarked:
"I am happy to be free again and to take up again our struggle for human rights...Just because we don’t have the right papers they make us endure moments of anguish and depression enclosed in the 4 walls of our cell. I met someone inside who tried to take his life for the difficulty these moments present to us. Since the first moment I was detained I felt the support that I was going to have not just from my community but also from allies and organizations that understand our struggle in this state. I felt that the struggle is not in vain. I could feel the power of our community that pushed and pressured ICE to free me.”
In an explosive new report, investigative journalists at VTDigger have published an exposé of routine and casual collusion between Vermont DMV employees and federal immigration agents to target, arrest, and deport DMV customers. The report draws from over 50 pages of emails obtained by Migrant Justice in a public records request that show rampant discrimination against immigrants in the months following the 2014 implementation of a state law allowing undocumented drivers access to a license.
Excerpts from emails between DMV employees, and between DMV and ICE employees, include:
“I can send you a list of the names if you like but they are all 'South of the Border' names”
“I’ve emailed the docs to Border Patrol and they will research further and get back to me. They sound pretty excited. I let them know [applicant] has re-scheduled for this Friday. I will also contact [DMV employee] and let him know what is going on, should he have to play stupid. [He] loves to play stupid!"
"We are being over run by immigrants”
Read the full report to learn how immigrant Vermonters are fighting back against discrimination at the DMV!
Immigration agents are cracking down on Vermont farmworkers. Yesterday morning, undercover agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Migrant Justice leader Miguel Alcudia. One of many Vermont immigrant dairy workers targeted by ICE in recent months, Miguel was arrested after agents staked out his farm and followed him as he drove to the bank to deposit a hard-earned paycheck.
Miguel’s case is part of a wave of ICE arrests of dairy workers in the state. Earlier this year, another high profile Migrant Justice leader, Victor Diaz, was detained by ICE. In Victor’s case, the community mobilized to defend him: protests were held around the state and nearly 3,000 people from across the country signed a petition calling for his release. Though his case continues, Victor was set free and is today back in his community in Vermont. Now, with Miguel behind bars, we must do the same.
We did it! Last week, we put out a call for support, asking you to take action to stop an 11th hour gutting of Vermont's Fair and Impartial Policing policy. The Migrant Justice community mobilized, and we are happy to announce that the new policy -- which will go into effect across the state on July 1st -- is a big step forward to stop discriminatory policing and the harmful collaboration of local police and immigration agents.
Our victory strengthening the policy came on the heels of another major win: a county Sheriff paid a massive settlement after illegally detaining Migrant Justice member Lorenzo Alcudia and turning him over to Border Patrol. Last week, in a six hour meeting to hammer out the final policy, Lorenzo (pictured below) confronted police and Border Patrol over his mistreatment.
"I lived and worked near the border for years," Lorenzo said, "and I can tell you that we are afraid to leave our farms to buy groceries or go to the doctor. We need to stop the targeting of immigrants by police."
Grand Isle Sheriff pays nearly $30,000 settlement in discrimination case
State’s bias-free policing policy under review
A Vermont Sheriff’s Department recently paid out a nearly $30,000 settlement stemming from discriminatory treatment against an immigrant dairy worker, who was turned over to Border Patrol after a traffic stop in which he was a passenger. As the state looks to update its bias-free policing policies, many warn that inadequate policy could open more departments to liability.
VICTOR DIAZ TO BE RELEASED FROM IMMIGRATION CUSTODY
Thousands support detained human rights leader