Dear friends of the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project,
We write to you at a critical moment for social change and economic justice and ask you to take 3 important actions below.
While on the one hand we are moved and inspired by the growing energy in this country and around the world to say NO to political and economic systems made for, by, and of the 1% super-elite Wall Streeters, we are also sobered by the reality facing our immigrant communities throughout the country and right here in Vermont.
On Wednesday night VT State Police declared that the detention of farm workers' Danilo Lopez and Antonio Meza-Sandoval on September 13th was in accordance with State Police policy and protocol. With this decision the VT State Police, like it or not, is sending a message to Vermonters that Troopers can and will be enforcing immigration laws, and will do so based on the color of the skin of otherwise law-abiding community members.
Right now in Alabama, the most draconian anti-immigration law in the country is going into effect with reports that people must show a valid Alabama ID to get water service to their homes. And since this law targets immigrant children and parents explicitly, the day after its implementation 2,000 children or 5% of Latino children in the Alabama school system did not go to school.
As we enter deeper into the 1% elite controlled economic and political system, lawmakers, including Senator Leahy, voted for Wall Street by supporting the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements. These agreements are modeled after the disastrous NAFTA--the very policy that allowed for the Wall Street 1% to dominate our economies and communities, and forced millions out of farming in Mexico with no where to go but north to support their families. Sen. Sanders opposed the deals. VTMFSP coordinator Natalia Fajardo, who is from Colombia, predicts that this FTA will punish those already struggling by devastating the country's agriculture and raise the cost of generic drugs, while advancing corporate control in the U.S.
As we celebrate the momentum building across the country to break up the party of the elite 1%, lets not forget Danilo, Antonio, Alabama and our brothers and sisters affected by free trade, many of whom will surely be driven from their homes across borders in search of food to feed their families by the continued Wall-Street driven policies of our country. Lets work for a completely different response to the broken immigration and trade systems, as Vermonters are doing with Health Care, by organizing for a more socially and economically just Vermont.
TAKE ACTION TODAY:
1. Watch this short and powerful video made by VTMFSP Medios Migrantes' leader Danilo Lopez (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUyBqoZlIaY) about the work of the"PoliMigra" in Vermont, which documents Vermont police acting as immigration agents.
Farmworker leaders will be visiting with the Governor this Friday, presenting this video and seeking stronger support for their rights.
Please JOIN US:
Write (GovernorVT [at] state [dot] vt [dot] us) AND call (802 828-3345) Governor Shumlin and tell him:
"Thank you for meeting with Vermont's farm workers (we will meet on Friday the 14th). However, I want to express my deep disappointment with the results of the State Police investigation of the detention of Danilo and Antonio on September 13th. This was a clear and obvious act of biased-policing.
You have my support to partner with Vermont's farm workers, farmers and Vermont's growing diverse communities of color to strengthen and improve Vermont's Bias-Free-Policing policies for all Vermonters so that what happened to Danilo and Antonio will never happen again in Vermont. While Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia criminalize immigrant communities, lets demonstrate that in Vermont, we value and respect all our residents."
Speak up and Speak out!
Continue to write your letters to the editor! We have seen some great letters (http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20110927/OPINION05/109270311/...) and some truly misinformed letters (http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20111009/OPINION03/110090314/...) and poor reporting (http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20111012/NEWS02/111012036/Tro...) in regards to the State Police's dehumanizing detention of Danilo and Antonio.
There are some concrete and clear legal arguments as well as broader social justice perspectives (http://vtmfsp.org/sites/default/files/ActionPackforBiasFreeVT.pdf) that we need to draw upon to educate readers about why State Police should not be racially profiling or enforcing immigration laws. Lets continue to shape the debate on immigration in Vermont in a humane, thoughtful, and personal way and create a groundswell of support that will continue to put the pressure on for systemic change while digging in at the community level for immediate relief.
2. Sign on to this petition to condemn Alabama's war on immigrant communities and pledge to stop this sort of hate from spreading to Vermont!
3. Patrick Leahy's vote for "Free Trade" is a vote for the Wall Street 1% and against Vermont's family farms, farm workers, and food sovereignty. Call Senator Patrick Leahy and tell him:
Senator Leahy: (802) 863-2525; (802) 229-0569; http://leahy.senate.gov/contact
"I am pleased to know that you have made efforts to support Vermont's migrant farm worker and farming communities with immigration reform. However, I am deeply disappointed and puzzled by your vote for the 1% -ruled free trade agenda. Your vote for "Free Trade" is a vote for the freedom of Wall Street greed and corporate power, and against the freedom and well-being of the 99%.
The Colombian and Panamanian Free Trade Agreements are modeled after NAFTA, the very policy that you supported that displaced millions of farmers from Mexico's food system forcing them to migrate here to Vermont. If you want to fix the immigration system stop voting for Free Trade policies that only enrich the 1% by breaking down borders for capital and corporations leading to massive displacement of people who then migrate north to survive. No more votes for the Wall Street 1% or you will lose the support of the 99%"
***Please also contact Sen. Sanders and thank him for standing with the 99% and voting against the Wall Street 1%***
(802) 862-0697; http://sanders.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm
Thanks for all your support and solidarity!
Natalia, Danilo and Brendan
VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project/Justicia Migrante