On June 23rd, three farmworkers were profiled and arrested outside a Vermont Walmart. Nearly two months later, after an arduous legal battle, Ismael Mendez is free and back in Vermont with his family and community. Sadly, Ubertoni and Mario were pressured to sign "voluntary departure" petitions and have been deported to Mexico. Ismael's liberation shows the beautiful promise of community solidarity and protest, while Ubertoni and Mario's deportation shows the cruel reality that all too many immigrants face.
After the detention of the farmworkers, nearly 2,000 supporters wrote letters to ICE denouncing the arrest and demanding their release. Dozens of fellow farmworkers participated in a photo-petition, showing their solidarity with their fellow members. And in vigils and marches around the state, thousands of Vermonters took to the streets to connect the brutalities of the national immigration system with the abuses happening in our backyard, chanting: "Close the Camps; Free the Farmworkers!"
On his release after six weeks in detention, Ismael said:
"I feel so happy to be free, and for the all the letters, the protests, and the marches. Thank you so much for being out there, fighting for me. From the day I was detained, I knew that people were supporting me, and it made all the difference.