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Mexican Immigrants save Vermont milk industry

Mexican workers are effectively helping to save Vermont’s cherished milk farms. The farms are in danger of being wiped out by competition. Milk production accounts for 80% of the state’s farm output and dairy farms are an icon of Vermont life. Mexican immigrants today account for an estimated on third of milk farm labor in the state. Farmers say that help is otherwise not available.

A recent report by John Dillon on Vermont Public Radio on Mexican workers on Vermont farms revealed how the state is implicitly collaborating with farmers to ensure that undocumented workers are available. It starts with the submission of the Citizenship and Immigration Services’ I-9 form.

According to the story, the Vermont Department of Agriculture advises farmers

To make certain that the documents that are required for the I-9 are there. The employer, the farmer, has no requirement to test the validity of the documents.

It’s kind of like “don’t ask, don’t tell". The news story said that

Federal immigration officials usually leave the farms alone. But workers can get turned in and deported if they get a speeding ticket, or if they're stopped by police for a routine traffic violation…. Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr says it's common knowledge that the papers many Mexicans carry are fake.


So, are these legal or illegal immigrants? There is a difference, as we all know...and failing to make the distinction is unfair!

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