Migrant Justice v. ICE

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!"

Eli to be Freed! Time to March on ICE!

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.

From Dream to Reality: Milk with Dignity Breaks Ground on over 70 Dairy Farms in Vermont and New York

“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.

"I'm not scared at all": Mayday rally and worker organizing in the face of ICE's attacks

With Mayday -- International Worker's Day -- approaching, talk of labor struggle is everywhere. Teachers have gone on strike across the country, demanding fair wages and adequate funding for students. 5,000 Jet Blue flight attendants voted to unionize last week. And women workers across industries are leading the fight to change the norms that have long excused and condoned sexual harassment.

These struggles for economic justice are not without their costs. Immigrant farmworkers in Vermont, along with immigrants everywhere, continue to be terrorized by a brutal regime of widespread arrests and mass deportation.  Arrests of farmworkers by ICE and Border Patrol are a weekly occurrence in Vermont, as the deportation agencies pick off workers on farms, at stores, and on the streets.

Despite the high cost, Migrant Justice leaders are proving Frederick Douglass' maxim that without "struggle there is no progress."  Click to Read More!

Vermont “Dreamer” Joins Florida Farmworkers for 5 Day #FreedomFast in New York City

#TimesUpWendys: Put an End to Sexual Violence in the Fields

For generations, farmworker women have endured some of the most hostile working conditions this country has to offer.  Farmworker women have referred to the constant barrage of catcalls, groping, and sexual assault as “our daily bread” in the fields. In one study, four out of every five farmworker women reported experiencing sexual harassment or violence at work.

But in 2011, after nearly two decades of hard-fought organizing with consumers across the country, farmworker women and men with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) launched the Fair Food Program (FFP) and, within a few short years, put an end to sexual assault and other human rights violations in the $650 million Florida tomato industry.  Today, the FFP extends to seven states and three crops, and all the major fast-food companies – McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell, KFC, and Chipotle – are on board.  

All except Wendy’s.

For years now, Wendy’s has totally ignored Florida farmworkers’ and consumers’ persistent calls to join the world-renowned Fair Food Program and join the rest of the fast food industry in protecting the fundamental human rights of farmworkers in its supply chain. So in response, yesterday Florida farmworkers and allies across the nation kicked off a 5-day “Freedom Fast”​.  Right now​, Migrant Justice member and dreamer Martha Herrera is in New York City outside the hedge fund office of Nelson Peltz, Wendy's largest shareholder and board chair, fasting in solidarity with dozens of Florida farmworkers and fair food allies demanding Wendy's join the Fair Food Program. 

Martha reflects on her motivation, “As a woman, as a member of Migrant Justice, and as a dreamer I am participating in the #FreedomFast for 5 days, to unite our voice with my compañeras from the Tomato industry. Something that really impacted me when I visited Immokalee was to see how the women’s community is so strong and for me this deeply inspired me because in most industries we women have no voice and no power.”


#JoseLuisFreed: Mass campaign wins release of detained farmworker!

Jose Luis Cordova Herrera was freed today following a mass community campaign calling for his release.  Nearly 1,500 people -- including Vermont’s congressional delegation -- wrote to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asking for freedom for the 40-year-old farmworker and father of three.

Upon his release from the prison where he spent nearly three weeks, Jose Luis reflected: "I want to thank everyone who supported me while I was locked up.  Being in prison you have a lot of time to think, to meditate, and I came to realize how important it is to be part of an organization like Migrant Justice. My freedom is proof of the power of an organized community."

Citing Jose Luis' history as a dairy worker in Vermont and his lack of criminal record, Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Representative Welch wrote in a February 16th letter: “It is unclear why ICE would consider Mr. Cordova Herrera an enforcement priority.”

Take Action to #FreeJoseLuis

Arrested leaving the dentist?! Take action now to #FreeJoseLuis. Click "Read More" below to learn more.


On February 8th, 40-year-old dairy worker Jose Luis Cordova Herrera was driven by a friend to the dentist to have his teeth cleaned. A Border Patrol agent saw him enter the dental office in Richford, Vermont. When they came out an hour later, the agent was still there. Jose Luis and his friend were followed for eight miles, pulled over, and arrested.