In the last few days, many Vermonters have read stories ICE arresting four undocumented farmworkers who are leaders of Migrant Justice. While there has been lots of coverage, Rights & Democracy is receiving some basic questions from our members and supporters, such as:
“How and why do people become migrant workers?” Do they just work for some periods of time or stay here for longer?”
This is a big topic that I’ll just try to give some context, but everyone should check out Migrant Justice’s website: www.migrantjustice.net.
First, it is important to understand that US economic policies like NAFTA devastated the Mexican economy, along with the repercussions of decades-long military interventions in Central America, which has led to people coming to the US, undocumented, but as true economic or political refugees. For decades, Vermont’s dairy industry has been increasingly squeezed financially by big agriculture and chemical corporations. And, for last decade has survived only by hiring primarily undocumented folks who work incredibly hard for little pay and often in dangerous working conditions. These corporations put their profits ahead of the often struggling dairy farmers and exploited farm workers (and also contribute to the pollution of Vermont’s water).
Until they started organizing for their rights and formed Migrant Justice, this group of thousands of farmworkers in Vermont were often invisible—living in trailers on the farms and politically voiceless. Migrant Justice has emerged as a leading human rights organization in the region as it has been building a groundswell of farmworker and community support through campaigns like Milk With Dignity. They have begun receiving national attention for their workers’ rights advocacy, including receiving the National Education Association’s Cesar Chavez Award.
Vermont migrant farmworkers often live in Vermont for years, and work in the dairy industry year round. Some end up raising families here and have become integral to many communities. It is common knowledge to everyone, including Vermont lawmakers and statewide elected officials, that our dairy industry relies on undocumented migrant workers to stay in business. There is no way federal law enforcement officials intend on deporting ALL of these farm workers. Their goal is a politically motivated, and a racist attack on Migrant Justice and the campaign for human rights. It is an attempt to create an atmosphere of fear and vulnerability in order to continue exploiting and dividing working people.
That is why it is critical for every one in Vermont to come to today’s rally and support their struggle. We say #FreeEnrique #FreeZully #FreeAlex and #Not1More because we believe these deportations must stop. We hope to build an economy that puts people and the planet over profit, where everyone can live and work with dignity. In Vermont, this means supporting Migrant Justice efforts to advance human rights for the most vulnerable and exploited workers in our state.
Actions to take:
Rally today at noon, top of Church Street in Burlington:
Sign petition to #FreeAlex: http://migrantjustice.net/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=10&reset=1
Sign petition to #FreeEnrique and #FreeZully: http://migrantjustice.net/free-enrique-and-zully
MAY 1, 2017: SAVE THE DATE: May Day March for Dignity! / ¡Marcha para La Dignidad! https://www.facebook.com/events/1388200547868552/
Arrest of Alex Carillo earlier this week: http://www.mynbc5.com/article/undocumented-farm-worker-arrested-in-ice-nbc5-asks-wife-what-s-next/9149514
Migrant Justice website, please send them a donation if you can: