Though those who live farther away from the muddy melting snow of Southern New England, may not have caught wind of the migrant rights struggle that has been playing out between farms and courthouses around the region, it’s worth everyone’s attention.
Since the ICE arrest and detention of farmworkers and Migrant Justice leaders Jose Enrique “Kike” Balcazar Sanchez and Zully Palacios Rodriguez on March 16, hundreds of people have gathered around Vermont and in Boston to demand the young activists release. Migrant Justice is a Vermont-based organization that organizes three regional migrant worker communities to advocate for human rights and economic justice. Especially considering some of the anecdotes in this excellent piece by LatinoUSA.org on their case, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which immigration officials are not intentionally targeting human rights leaders for deportation.
Both are in their early twenties, neither with any prior arrests, and they were on their way home from the Migrant Justice center when they were stopped. Balcazar, as LatinoUSA reports, “is an active community organizer in Vermont, and served on Vermont attorney general T.J. Donovan’s Immigrant Task Force, which was created in January as a response to President Trump’s immigration executive orders.”
Within a week of their detention, 10,000 people had signed petitions for their release, and, according to the Boston Globe, US Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to Chris Cronen, director of ICE’s Boston field office, “asking him to use prosecutorial authority in deciding whether to pursue their detention and deportation.”
After yesterday’s rally at their hearing in Boston, we are glad to report some good news: both Balcazar and Rodriquez were granted $2,500 bails and are set to be released today.
Though detentions like these should be disquieting to everyone, we’d like to suggest that young agrarians should be allies to migrant justice movements. There is no economic justice for small farmers without economic justice for farm workers and human rights for all migrants. Keep your ear to the ground Greenhorns, there’s a long road ahead and our friends need our help. And keep your pens to the paper: it’s working.
To close, anyone with $5 or more extra in their pockets these days, might also find this a good time to donate to Migrant Justice. And we’ll leave you with Balcazar on TV in February: