On Thursday May 30th, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed H.518 -- the “No Polimigra” bill -- into law. Migrant Justice drafted and fought for this legislation. Its passage gives local communities more power to strengthen policies that stop the collaboration between police and federal immigration authorities (known in Spanish as “polimigra”).
With this new law in place, it’s time to organize! Join Migrant Justice on Monday June 10th, 6-8pm to learn about how to organize against the Polimigra in your community. RSVP to participate by videoconference or in person at our Burlington office.
Earlier this year, Migrant Justice leader Enrique “Kike” Balcazar took the stage in Gainesville, Florida to deliver a talk on the founding and growth of Migrant Justice -- and of his own journey from farmworker to human rights leader. The video from this inspiring and emotional story has just been made available.
Kike spoke at the annual frank gathering, hosted by the University of Florida’s Center for Public Interest Communications. Migrant Justice was honored to share the center stage over several days with journalists, researchers, and activists, all luminaries in their fields.
After spending nearly three months in immigration detention, Cruz Alberto Sanchez-Perez, known to his friends as Beto, is finally free! In January Beto was refused bail by an immigration judge but decided to continue fighting for his asylum case based on the violence he has faced as an openly gay man in his home country of Mexico. On March 25th, Beto was granted asylum and today he is reunited with his community in Vermont.
Take action now to stop the deportation of a farmworker! Beto was arrested by ICE on December 31st, despite his pending asylum claim. If Beto were deported, he would likely continue to face violence and persecution as a gay man. Signing these petitions works -- public support has helped release many immigrants from detention. Click "Read More" to learn about his arrest, and sign the petition today! Together we can #FreeBeto! #Not1More
Today, November 14th, Migrant Justice filed a major national lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE has engaged in a years-long campaign of retaliation against Migrant Justice, in violation of First Amendment protections for freedom of speech and assembly. We are suing to stop the unlawful, targeted surveillance and harassment of the organization and the arrest and detention of members. Today we say "Ya Basta, ICE!"
Since 2016, ICE and Border Patrol have arrested over 40 immigrant community members involved in Migrant Justice. The lawsuit focuses on a handful of those detentions where there is clear evidence that immigration agents targeted members because of their outspoken leadership as human rights defenders, including the notorious arrests of Victor Diaz, Miguel Alcudia, Enrique "Kike" Balcazar, and Zully Palacios. These detentions have been carried out by ICE as part of a coordinated effort to attack Migrant Justice and disrupt our groundbreaking organizing for human rights and economic justice, including through electronic surveillance and the use of a confidential informant.
ICE has been aided in this campaign of repression by the Vermont DMV, also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Since Migrant Justice passed a 2013 law allowing all Vermont residents to access driver's licenses regardless of immigration status, the DMV has discriminated against immigrant applicants. Claiming they were being "over run by by immigrants," employees routinely passed confidential information to ICE agents and facilitated the arrest of immigrants. Public records requests have revealed troves of emails between ICE and the DMV, with state employees forwarding what they referred to as "South of the Border" names. They continued to do so even after being forced to adopt a policy stating that employees: “shall not dedicate department time or resources to the enforcement of federal immigration law.” ICE has relied on the VT DMV's discriminatory practices in its campaign to silence Vermont's immigrant community leaders, writing to one state employee: “We’re going to have to make you an honorary ICE officer!”
By filing this landmark lawsuit, Migrant Justice is escalating its resistance to ICE's and the DMV's unlawful attacks. We are standing up for the First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly, and for the constitution's promise of equal protection under the law. We are saying to ICE, enough is enough: "Ya Basta!"
Just a few days ago, we launched a campaign to #FreeEli, a young farmworker and Migrant Justice member who was profiled and arrested by Border Patrol at a gas station near his farm. Eli was detained despite the fact that he had already been released by an immigration judge and had his case closed! Meanwhile, his friend -- who possesses a valid visa -- was detained for hours without cause and threatened with deportation himself.
The response was overwhelming: nearly 1,300 of you wrote letters to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) denouncing this unconscionable abuse of power and demanding freedom for Eli. Fellow farmworkers shared photos supporting Eli's release. And the pressure worked: ICE will release Eli -- at this time tomorrow he should be home with his family and community!
On Wednesday, November 14th, Join Migrant Justice for a march on ICE! Meet at 12pm at the Migrant Justice office (S. Winooski Ave and King St, Burlington, VT) to march to the federal courthouse and demand justice.
Eli Calvo is a Vermont dairy worker and member of Migrant Justice. He was profiled and detained by Border Patrol agents at a gas station near his farm. Take action to demand freedom for Eli!
“Milk with Dignity has been the dream of farmworkers in Vermont for many years. It’s a path forward for us to have our voices recognized and to have our rights and dignity recognized,” proclaimed Vermont farmworker spokesperson Enrique Balcazar at a jubilant press conference last week announcing the progress of this new worker-driven social responsibility program.
After years of negotiations culminated in an agreement between Migrant Justice and Ben & Jerry’s last October, all farmers in Ben & Jerry’s Northeast dairy supply chain are now required to join the Milk with Dignity (MD) Program. But what does this mean on the ground for workers, farmers and consumers?
The MD Program is proving to be exactly what workers predicted--a win-win-win for farmworkers, farmers, and consumers.
Alejandro Hernandez is free and back in Vermont! After nearly a month in detention, he has been reunited with his wife and community. His liberation is due to the thousands who marched, rallied, and wrote letters denouncing his arrest and demanding his freedom.