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Lawsuit Alleges Farmworkers Targeted For Activism With Surveillance, Informant

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington charges that the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles participated in a campaign to target activists for arrest and deportation. Photo by Liam Elder-Connors for VPR

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington charges that the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles participated in a campaign to target activists for arrest and deportation. Photo by Liam Elder-Connors for VPR

Undocumented farmworkers in Vermont say they are being unlawfully targeted by federal immigration authorities for their activism on behalf of fellow migrants.

The allegations are laid out in a new federal lawsuit brought by Migrant Justice and several of its members.

Immigration activist Enrique Balcazar said at a rally Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Burlington that dozens of his colleagues have been arrested and deported, some solely because of their work on behalf of undocumented workers.

“In the past two years alone there have been over 40 community members associated with Migrant Justice who have been arrested by federal immigration authorities,” he said through an interpreter. “Many of them have since been deported, and in nine of these cases, we have clear evidence that these arrests were retaliatory, targeting people because of their involvement in Migrant Justice.”

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