5 Things to do for Danilo, Antonio and all of Vermont's Communities
Posted Mon, 09/19/2011 - 10:31am
Below are 5 things you can do to support Danilo and Antonio and all Vermont Farmworkers. We will be holding a meeting this week with our Coordinating Committee so please stay tuned for more in the coming days:
1) Thank the Governor for standing up for Vermont Farmworkers, in support of Bias-Free-Policing, and against Vermont Police acting as Federal Immigration Agents
2) Write letters to the editor in support of Vermont farmworkers; Bias-Free-Policing; the Governor's defense of Vermont's farmworker communities; and to call upon ALL VT Police to not act as immigration agents
3) Spread the word and sign people up on our take action email list.
4) Help us with outreach calls
5) This work requires resources! Please Support our work for farmworker justice!
1) Thank the Governor for standing up for Vermont Farmworkers and against Vermont Police acting as Federal Immigration Agents
September 13th was a long and painful day for the Vermont farmworker community and friends. Our dear friend and one of the community's most courageous and outspoken leaders, Danilo Lopez, was racially profiled by State Police on I-89 just north of Middlesex during a routine traffic stop.
Since that time the VTMFSP mobilized in partnership with the VT Workers' Center and many other individuals and organizations. This story has generated widespread media attention and prompted a call by the Governor's office to:
*Conduct a review of the incident and determine if it was a breach of the State Police's Bias-Free Policing Policy
* Publicly clarify Governor Shumlin's position on this issue, which is that VT Police should not be enforcing federal immigration policies; Vermont farmworkers are a vital part of our Vermont communities; and VT disagrees with the federal government on this issue
THIS IS THE BOLDEST PUBLIC STEP A VT GOVERNOR HAS TAKEN ON THIS ISSUE TO DATE. WE NEED TO STAND WITH GOVERNOR SHUMLIN AS HE BEGINS TO GET CRITICIZED BY GROUPS THAT DISCOUNT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GOVERNOR USING THE POWER HE HAS TO STAND WITH FARMWORKERS AND ALL COMMUNITIES OF COLOR IN VERMONT BY IMPROVING THE STATE'S BIAS-FREE-POLICING POLICY AND PROTOCOLS WHILE AT THE SAME TIME WORKING FOR FEDERAL IMMIGRATION REFORM.
Note: The VT GOP claims Governor Douglas did the right thing on this issue by working with VT Congressional Delegation to change federal immigration policy. They actually have it half right and should be applauded for their commitment to work for Comprehensive Immigration Reform! However, even more impressive is that Governor Shumlin IS working for federal immigration reform too and while Washington is stuck in partisan bickering he is taking concrete steps NOW to STAND UP for a Bias-Free Vermont, which is the right thing NOT JUST FOR FARMWORKERS BUT FOR ALL VERMONT COMMUNITIES! Governor Shumlin has the courage to actually engage the need to clarify Police policy and protocol to lead to concrete and measurable improvements in the lives of Vermont's farmworkers and all Vermont's diverse and growing communities of color.
Please write (GovernorVT@state.vt.us) AND call (802 828-3345) Governor Shumlin and tell him:
"THANK YOU for standing up for a Bias-Free-VT and in defense of Vermont's farmworkers. You have my support to continue to speak out in defense of Vermont's farmworker communities, to work for comperhensive and just federal immigration reform, and to work for a safe and bias-free Vermont for all Vermonters."
Please let us know if you made the call or sent a letter by emailing: email@example.com
Note: If you are a dairy farmer, member of Vermont's farming communities, or part of any organization with a membership it is important you identify yourself as part of a bigger group concerned about this issue and supportive of Vermont's migrant farmworkers.
2) Write PERSONAL letters to the editor in support of Vermont farmworkers, Bias-Free-Policing and in defense of the Governor's support for Vermont's farmworker and farming communities.
Since Danilo and Antonio were profilied by State Police and the Governor spoke out in defense of our farmworker communities the issue has drawn widespread media attention. We keep an up to date list here:
Please write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper in order to keep this conversation personal, humane, dignified, and thoughtful. If you live, work or have a connection to Vermont's farmworker communities its important to make that clear to break down the dehumanizing affect of our broken immigration system. Some general background context/talking points can be found here:
Bias Free-Policing talking points can be found here:
For a list of addresses to submit letter to the editors to major newspapers go here:
For a personalized example of a letter to the editor from VTMFSP volunteer Christine Eber see below:
Migrant farmworkers in Vermont face racial profiling and threat of deportation
by Christine Eber
On September 13th Danilo López, a leader of migrant farm workers in Vermont, was arrested along with fellow farm worker, Antonio, during a routine traffic stop on 1-89. That day and in the days after, supporters of farm workers’ rights geared into action to secure Danilo’s and Antonio’s release and to stop their deportation. Their efforts led to Governor Shumlin’s call for an internal investigation of the State Police’s possible violation of their Bias-Free policy, followed by an announcement by the State Police that they will review their policy.
Before moving to Vermont from New Mexico, I knew something about why men like Danilo and Antonio might come this far to find work from my research as an anthropologist in Danilo’s home state of Chiapas, Mexico. The few jobs available there are usually for short periods of time, often under demeaning and abusive conditions, at a long distance from home, and for as little as $5.00 a day. If I were making that little and a relative told me that there was work on a dairy farm in Vermont making $8 an hour, I believe that I would come to the U.S., too.
Still, it takes great courage to leave one’s home, cross the U.S./Mexico border, and then traverse nearly the whole United States to arrive in Vermont. Once in Vermont, migrant workers rarely leave their farms for fear of being detained by police or immigration authorities. Walking or driving on the roads of Vermont, Central American workers stand out from the predominately white population. Employers go to stores for them or on occasion drive them there. As a result, migrant farmworkers are largely invisible to the majority of Vermonters.
Each time I walk on the streets of Burlington or drive to see my grandchildren in the country nearby, I think about the injustice and irony of my Central American neighbors being unable to move freely in the “land of the free.” I am saddened to see their humanity so severely constrained by ill-conceived immigration policies.
These policies compelled Danilo to become a leader of his 1,500 fellow farm workers in Vermont. On August 18, 2011 I was privileged to attend an historic press conference at the state house at which time Danilo and Ober López read a letter that they and seventy other farm workers had signed and addressed to dairy farmers throughout the state to enlist their support to oppose the Secure Communities program, a government initiative that would make local and state police arms of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In his remarks Danilo stated, “It is not fair for migrants to be treated as criminals. If it is a crime to not let a family member starve, then, logically, we are all criminals, since one would do anything for a loved one. If the situation were the opposite, if Americans had to migrate to give their families a better life, would they like to be treated with racism? Our skins are different, but our hearts are the same.”
If made mandatory throughout the nation, the Secure Communities Program would lead to mass deportations of millions of immigrants, tear families apart, and further weaken the dairy industry in Vermont. While President Obama pledged not to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, under his administration over one million have been deported.
Sadly, some Americans seem to have no problem living in a country that deports hardworking people. I want to believe that if they were to meet Danilo and Antonio and the many other decent and dedicated migrant farm workers in Vermont, they would be compelled to think hard about the kind of nation we have become and work with others to ensure the right of all people wherever they live to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Christine Eber is a volunteer with the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project. For more information and to find out how you can help during this critical time email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 802-658-6770 or visit the website: www.migrantjustice.net
3) Spread the word and sign people up on our take action email list
As we build this campaign to stop Danilo and Antionio's deportation and improve and strengthen the State of Vermont's commitments to our farmworker communities we will need your help!
Please spread the word about our project and get more people to join our action alert email list here:
Also, remember, this incident began in the midst of our campaign to get the State of Vermont to Opt out of Secure Communities and has put the issue front and center of why we need to not particpate in (in)Secure Communities. If you haven't already Sign on to the Petition to Stop ICE's "Secure Communities" from coming to Vermont and spread the word to others:
4) Help us with outreach calls
This week we will be reaching out to our members and other Vermont allies to join into the above ACTION items and to follow-up after our Coordinating Committee meeting on Wednesday. If you are available on Thursday or Friday to help us with outreach please email us at email@example.com. You don't have to come to the office in Burlington to help out if you are willing to make calls from home we will send you a phone script and list of callers.
5) If you can, please donate to VTMFSP here: http://migrantjustice.net/node/91
It takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and resources to sustain this work in support of Danilo and Antonio and all of Vermont's farmworkers.
Thank you again for your support and encouragement. Please stay tuned.
-Natalia Fajardo and Brendan O'Neill, on behalf of everyone at the Vermont MIgrant Farmworker Solidarity Project