Bringing Migrant Justice to the Vermont State House

Immigrant leaders from Migrant Justice have returned to the Vermont State House for the start of the 2024 legislative session. This year, we are leading efforts to expand access to housing, healthcare, and higher education for immigrant families. Together, Vermonters can fight for legislation that protects immigrant rights in our state!

Are you a Vermont resident? Take action now! Send a quick email to Representative Peter Conlon (Chair of the House Education Committee) letting him know that you support H.817, a bill to ensure equity in tuition and financial aid for immigrant students.

On January 12th, we kicked off the legislative session by joining a State House press conference and rally organized by the Vermont Workers Center and featuring a broad array of grassroots organizations. One of the speakers, Migrant Justice farmworker leader Cristian Santos, addressed the crowd:

“We are here today, united as Vermont’s working class, to demand access to dignified housing and quality education. Nobody should have to choose between following their dreams and feeding their families.”

Cristian and fellow members of Migrant Justice are supporting three bills this session:

  1. Education Equity for Immigrant Students (H.817): In many states, when immigrant students without social security numbers graduate from high school and apply to public university or community college, they are treated as international students and charged accordingly. Migrant Justice and others are proposing a bill to ensure that all Vermont students – regardless of immigration status – have access to in-state tuition rates and financial aid.
  2. Housing Access for Immigrant Families: As more families make Vermont their home – and long-time farmworkers look for work off of farms – many encounter high barriers and discrimination when searching for housing. On Tuesday, we provided testimony to a Senate committee in advance of the introduction of a bill to protect immigrants from discrimination in the housing market.
  3. Expanding Access to Medicaid and Dr. Dynasaur (H.721): Our friends at the Vermont Workers’ Center are leading the charge to expand Medicaid access for low-income Vermonters, as a step on the road to universal healthcare. This bill would also expand the Immigrant Health Insurance Program (IHIP) – which Migrant Justice helped establish in 2021 – to provide coverage to more immigrant Vermonters up to age 26. 

Just this morning, 19-year-old farmworker Eric Alfaro provided testimony to a House committee in support of the healthcare bill.

“While in the Immigrant Health Insurance Program, I was able to go to the doctor for the first time in a long time, to get my shots, a physical, and the medical care I needed…. Now that I’m 19, I don’t have any health insurance but I’m still putting my health at risk every day working…. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or how old you are: everyone should have access to healthcare.”

Throughout the session, we will provide updates on these bills, along with opportunities to get involved and support immigrant rights in Vermont. Stay tuned for more – and take action today by emailing Rep. Conlon with your support for Education Equity!