Episode 24: On Ice

NEXT New England
NEXT New England
Episode 24: On Ice

Miguel Alcudia was picked up earlier this year by immigration authorities for residing in the state on an expired visa. Despite federal guidelines prioritizing criminals, there are still cases where authorities detain individuals with no record. Photo by Ryan Caron King for NENC

Federal policy changes were supposed to end random deportations of people who aren’t criminals, but in parts of New England, it’s still happening. We continue our series “Facing Change” and talk to Vermont farm workers. We also hear how Boston police are enforcing that city’s pro-immigrant “Trust” act. We also explore the history of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s formative time in the tobacco fields of Connecticut, and the story of how New England’s biggest mountain — home to some of the worst weather in the world — became a tourist haven.

Facing Change

Vermont Public Radio reporter Kathleen Masterson has been listening to the stories of immigrant farm workers for the New England News Collaborative series, “Facing Change.”

Many of these dairy workers are in the country without documentation, and they’ve been increasingly worried about what would happen to them if President-elect Donald Trump makes good on his pledge to increase the number of deportations. One man from Mexico, who works on a dairy farm in Bristol, Vermont, told Masterson through a translator that he’s been living in a climate of fear. He worries about even driving to the store for fear of being pulled over.

These farm workers are just a few of about 400,000 immigrants without legal status living and working in New England. In a mostly white state like Vermont, many of them fear they’d be easily targeted because they stand out.

In Boston, that’s not the case. In fact, the city passed the Trust Act in 2014 to reassure immigrants that police wouldn’t turn them over to immigration officials. But, as Boston Globe reporter Maria Sacchetti reports, there’s a loophole in that law that allowed police to turn over nine men to federal authorities.

Vermont Utility Hack: False Alarm

Burlington Electric in Vermont. Photo by Emily Alfin Johnson for VPR

We hear about a story of Russian hacking, aimed at a small target — Burlington Electric — a small, city-owned utility in Vermont. The Washington Post story over New Year’s weekend was scary: Russian hackers penetrated the U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont.

But that story turned out to be… well, not true. And it caused a mess for the utility.

Also, on January 16, we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

He’s a figure we don’t usually associate with New England. But two summers King spent in Connecticut as a young man likely stoked his passion for achieving equality for African Americans.

King was 15 when he first traveled to Simsbury, Connecticut — now a suburb, then a small farming town outside of Hartford — to spend the summer working on a tobacco farm. On the podcast, we speak with Simsbury historian Elaine Lange. Below: a short documentary about King’s summers in Connecticut produced by students at Simsbury High School.

The Second-Greatest Show on Earth

There’s a new, controversial plan to build a hotel in an unlikely place — near the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The 35-room hotel is still in the planning stages. New Hampshire Public Radio reports that the developer has met with the local planning board, but that more than 6,000 people have signed a petition against it.

Stereoscopic view of tourists at the Tip Top House on Mount Washington. Photo by Franklin White, accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

Famously home of “the world’s worst weather,” Mount Washington is the tallest mountain in the Northeastern United States, and it already hosts a huge amount of tourist infrastructure. In fact, PT Barnum once stood on the summit and called the mountaintop “the second greatest show on earth.”

From the podcast Outside/In, Host Sam Evans Brown and Producer Taylor Quimby bring us the tale of how the mountain was conquered, and how that process became the template for mountain tourism worldwide.

About NEXT

NEXT is produced at WNPR.
Host: John Dankosky
Producer: Andrea Muraskin
Executive Producer: Catie Talarski
Digital Content Manager/Editor: Heather Brandon
Contributors to this episode: Kathleen Masterson, Maria Sacchetti, Taylor Dobbs, Sam Evans-Brown and the producers of Outside/In.
Music: Todd Merrell, “New England” by Goodnight Blue Moon

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