Channel 17 Town Meeting TV Response to Recent Migrant Farmworker Arrests
Channel 17/Town Meeting TV - Burlington, Vermont
On Friday, March 17th Channel 17/Town Meeting TV community producer Enrique “Kike” Balcazar, producer of Nadando Contra la Corriente con Justicia Migrante, the popular Spanish language program for Vermont migrant farm workers, was one of three people detained and arrested by U.S. Immigration and Custom's Enforcement (ICE) officials last week. Enrique’s arrested colleagues include Zully Palacios and Alex Carrillo.
Enrique Balcazar is a remarkable champion of free speech and an inspiring advocate for Vermont migrant farm workers. Channel 17/Town Meeting TV recently nominated Enrique for a national Hometown Media Award with the Alliance for Community Media for his important work as producer and host of Nadando Contra la Corriente con Justicia Migrante.
As long time fighters for human rights, Enrique, Zully and Alex have worked through legal channels to improve the lives of the very people who help to maintain the unique agricultural nature of Vermont. They actively contribute to the well-being of our state and all of its people. Channel 17/Town Meeting TV is seriously concerned by the federal detention of Enrique and his colleagues. We join our neighbors across Vermont in calling for their immediate release. Their threatened deportation is unjust and would be an unnecessary and significant loss for our community.
The following is a press release from Migrant Justice:
Enrique “Kike” Balcazar, is a seasoned human rights leader in Vermont. Kike has lived in the state since 2011, when he became one of the many migrant dairy workers who make Vermont’s iconic dairy industry possible. He joined Migrant Justice in 2012, and soon became a spokesperson for his community, helping to lead the successful campaign for driver’s licenses for all Vermont residents. Kike has represented migrant workers at numerous national gatherings and coalitions, including the national Food Chain Workers Alliance, the Northeast Organic Farming Association's recent convention, and in the Cosecha National Assembly in Boston. He has received an invitation to speak at Harvard University on April 1st. Kike leads the nationally-acclaimed Milk with Dignity campaign, and is part of the Vermont Attorney General’s task force on immigration. Kike’s infectious smile has cheered all of us who have had the fortune to interact with him.
Zully Palacios is an active member of Migrant Justice. Zully has participated in Migrant Justice Assemblies, learning about the reality that dairy farmworkers face in Vermont. She has been an active member since 2015, leading presentations, participating in activities of an immigrant women’s group, and designing know-your-rights information for the immigrant community. Zully participated in the campaign to secure a commitment from Ben & Jerry’s to join the Milk with Dignity Program. Her work for human rights includes joining meetings and trainings about the rights of workers and immigrants at the national level. In November, Zully went to New York for the Food Chain Workers Alliance’s Justice in the Food Chain Training, and in February, Zully participated in the Cosecha National Assembly in Boston.
On Friday, March 17, Enrique and Zully were leaving the Migrant Justice office in Burlington, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents targeted and arrested them. They are now in detention awaiting a court date. Neither has a criminal record. Their targeting appears to be political retaliation for their effective work in defending the human rights of workers and immigrants in this country.
Read more about the arrests here https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/17/ice-detains-two-migrant-justice-activists/ and watch video as, over the weekend, hundreds of people turned out to support those recently arrested.