Farmworkers’ arrest brings protest to ICE

Migrant Justice criticizes detention of local immigrants

Elaine Ezerins

By Elaine Ezerins

Staff Writer

The Facts

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‘What they’re trying to do is send us back to the shadows where we came out of.’

- Abel Luna, Migrant Justice

ST. ALBANS — Migrant Justice was here Monday protesting the arrest of two Franklin County farmworkers arrested and detained by U.S. Border Patrol Saturday night. Protestors outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office asked for their immediate release.

“It’s unjust that any human being is put into shackles… just for the reason that they’re here in this country, in this state, milking cows,” said David Diaz, a member of Migrant Justice, through a translator.

Founded by immigrant farmworkers working in Vermont, Migrant Justice aims to build the voice and power of the farmworker community and advocate for economic justice and human rights.

More than 30 members showed up Monday around noon, holding signs saying “Not one more” and “ICE stop attacking our families,” demanding the release of Esau Peche and Yesenia Hernández.

“They’re two of the 1,500 farmworkers living and working in the state, making our dairy industry function, milking cows for long hours at low wages in difficult and dangerous conditions,” said Will Lambek, another member of Migrant Justice, who acted as the translator during the protest.

According to Migrant Justice, Peche and Hernández were pulled over by Border Patrol in East Franklin on their way home Saturday night, after participating in a march with Migrant Justice earlier that day.

The couple, along with 200 others, walked 13 miles from Montpelier to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, asking the ice cream makers to join Milk with Dignity, a program designed by dairy workers to improve conditions in the industry.

“Any time a farmworker steps off their farm, they’re putting themselves at risk of detention and deportation,” said Lambek. “So it makes it even more powerful, the sacrifice that these workers knowingly made to say, ‘We aren’t going to live in the shadows. We’re going to come out, show our faces, demand dignity, demand our rights.'”

For more on the protest, pick up a copy of Tuesday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.

  • Mike in VT

    Non-story. In most cases, the money earned is being sent outside of the USA. Therefore, the money is not put back into our economy.

    Lesson to learn from their “struggle”…apply for an H2A visa like other temporary agricultural workers are required to do. I believe the writer of this article missed that. You’re welcome.