Press release: ICE illegally deports asylum seekers from Vermont

A family has been deported to Honduras, in violation of the government’s legal protections for asylum seekers. Greisy Mejia, 29, came to the United States with her nine-year-old daughter and infant son fleeing for her life. Rather than allow her to apply for relief from deportation, immigration agents detained Greisy and her children yesterday in St. Albans, VT. 

As dozens of community members gathered for an emergency rally outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, Greisy and her children were driven away. They were put on a plane and deported to Honduras. ICE carried out this deportation despite protections guaranteeing individuals who express fear of persecution in their country of origin an interview with an asylum officer.

We denounce this cruel and horrific abuse. ICE needlessly and knowingly sent a family back to a country where their lives will be at risk – in violation of the law and the agency’s own guidelines. We hold ICE responsible for any harm that comes to Greisy and her family. This is an attack against the entire immigrant community. Migrant Justice mourns the deportation of this family and will continue to fight for their safe return to the United States.

Read more for the full press release

Another victory against deportation for the Migrant Justice 10!

We are excited to announce that Migrant Justice leader Ambrocio Rojas has won his immigration case and halted his pending deportation! Ambrocio is one of the “Migrant Justice 10,” a group of farmworkers in deportation proceedings who collectively petitioned the government to remain in the United States. He is the third farmworker leader so far to win his case.

Ambrocio has lived and worked in the United States for the past eleven years. He was detained by Border Patrol in the parking lot of a supermarket after buying food and wiring money to his family in Mexico. The community rallied to his defense and posted a $6,000 bond to win his temporary release, but Ambrocio remained under threat of deportation.

Two years ago, Ambrocio and nine other Migrant Justice members moved to close their deportation cases. The Migrant Justice 10 cited a newly-won policy from the Biden Administration instructing immigration authorities that a “noncitizen's exercise of workplace or tenant rights … should be considered a mitigating factor in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.” In other words, Ambrocio’s background fighting for his rights and the rights of his community should be a positive factor in preventing his deportation.

Read more to watch a celebratory message from Ambrocio!

Governor Scott signs Education Equity bill into law!

Vermont Governor Phil Scott has signed into law a proposal crafted by Migrant Justice to expand access to higher education for the state’s immigrant community. The new “Education Equity for Immigrant Students” law will ensure that all Vermont residents, regardless of immigration status, have access to in-state tuition rates and need-based financial aid when attending public colleges and universities.

Migrant Justice built a coalition and worked with lawmakers throughout this year’s legislative session to advance this important proposal. The work was led by immigrant students and parents, who met with representatives and senators, built support, and provided testimony on their desire to build a future in Vermont.

Read more to get the full story!

Press Release: Immigrant students rally at Vermont State House in support of higher education bill

“Education Equity for Immigrant Students” proposal awaits Governor’s signature

Montpelier, VT: Lawmakers and immigrant community members rallied today at the Vermont State House to celebrate the passage of the “Education Equity for Immigrant Students” proposal by the legislature and to call on Governor Scott to sign the bill into law.

Once enacted, the bill will ensure that all Vermont residents, regardless of immigration status, have access to in-state tuition rates and need-based financial aid when attending public colleges and universities in the state. The proposal, originally introduced as H.817, was later combined with another education-related bill (S.191) and passed overwhelmingly by both houses. The bill was transmitted to the Governor on May 24th and awaits his signature.

Photo-report from Hannaford HQ Delegation

On May 1st, farmworkers held a hugely successful one-day boycott of the Hannaford in Williston, VT that resulted in a double-digit drop in the store’s sales. Hundreds of customers made a choice to show their solidarity with farmworkers and not cross the picket line. Following this successful action, we reached out to Hannaford to request a meeting to discuss our invitation to join the Milk with Dignity Program.

Last Friday, after Hannaford failed to respond to the invitation, farmworkers decided to bring the message directly to Hannaford President Mike Vail at the company’s headquarters in Scarborough, Maine. With thousands of handwritten postcards from Hannaford customers in hand, a delegation of a dozen Vermont dairy workers and allies traveled to Scarborough and knocked on the company’s front doors.

Read more to see the full photo-report!

Following one-day boycott success, Migrant Justice delegation travels to Hannaford headquarters

A delegation of farmworkers is in Maine today, May 24th, visiting the corporate headquarters of Hannaford Supermarket. They brought with them the results of the recent one-day boycott action and a clear message that Hannaford can either join the Milk with Dignity Program or continue to face repercussions from consumers tired of the company’s empty promises.

Watch the just-released video from the Mayday “Don’t Buy” picket of Hannaford Supermarket

Victory! Vermont strengthens “No Polimigra” protections

In 2017, when Donald Trump took the presidency and made attacks against immigrant communities and “Sanctuary Cities” a cornerstone of his administration, Vermont policy-makers and law enforcement officials buckled under the threats and watered down protections for immigrant rights in the state. After years of pressure from Migrant Justice – and with the threat of another Trump presidency looming – the state has now reversed course and strengthened policy. While the changes still leave out some key protections, they represent a significant victory for immigrant rights in Vermont.

We celebrate this achievement while recognizing that the changes fall short of what immigrant communities need and deserve. Our focus now turns towards implementation, to ensure that law enforcement agencies properly adopt, train to, and hold officers accountable to the updated policy. No actions can undo the harm caused by past collaboration, but the new policy will be a key tool to protect immigrant rights in Vermont in the years to come.

Read more to learn about new protections in Vermont’s Fair and Impartial Policing Policy!

Success! Hundreds of customers turn away from Hannaford Supermarkets

This year’s Mayday action at Hannaford Supermarket was a huge success! From 7am to 11pm, farmworkers and allies picketed, rallied, marched, and chanted, calling on Hannaford customers to refrain from shopping at the store. The response was overwhelming: hundreds of potential customers respected the picket line and turned away, decreasing Hannaford’s sales at its Williston location by double digits.

The action on International Workers’ Day felt like a full-day festival. Throughout the day, farmworkers were joined on the picket line by union members, faith communities, farmers, and students: nuns, high schoolers, and nurses all chanted together, calling for Milk with Dignity. Farmworkers delivered homemade meals of tamales, empanadas, and barbacoa, keeping the ralliers fed. Bread & Puppet brought a massive puppet, and brass bands provided musical accompaniment. Picketers cooled off with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (from Milk with Dignity farms!), and a cow with a Mayday garland of daffodils made an appearance.

Read more to see the full photo-report!

May 1st: Don’t cross the picket line; don’t shop at Hannaford!

Migrant Justice is back from The Netherlands, the home base of Hannaford´s parent company Ahold Delhaize. After a packed trip of meetings with Ahold workers, labor unions, civil society organizations, and academics, we are building momemtum in the Milk with Dignity campaign. With newfound support in Europe, we are calling on Hannaford to address human rights violations in its supply chain and join Milk with Dignity.

Next up: May 1st, International Workers Day! This Mayday, for the first time, farmworkers are calling for a one-day boycott to protest the company’s refusal to stop abuses on the farms behind Hannaford-brand milk. 

Workers and allies will hold a full-day picket of the Hannaford Supermarket in Williston, Vermont. Join us!

Read more to get the details!

From Addison to Amsterdam, fighting for farmworker rights!

April 10th was a major day for the Milk with Dignity campaign. Around Vermont, across the country, and in Europe, Migrant Justice and allies took action to stand up for the rights and dignity of dairy workers.

Farmworkers led three surprise actions at Hannaford stores, gathering to speak with managers and educate customers about conditions in the company’s supply chain. Workers handed out informative leaflets and urged store managers to speak with company executives on the need for Milk with Dignity.

Meanwhile, hundreds of customers and allies contacted the office of Hannaford President Mike Vail directly, voicing their support for Milk with Dignity and calling on the company to sit down with farmworkers. Over 400 people called throughout the day!

And finally, a Migrant Justice delegation arrived in The Netherlands, the home of Hannaford parent company Ahold Delhaize!

Read more to see a full photo-report from the day of action.