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.
Alejandro was pulled out of his car by armed undercover agents and arrested in front of his wife. Sign the petition to release Alejandro back to his family and community! Click "Read More" for more information.
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!
#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.”