Immigrant Farmworkers Arrested After Demonstration

(ESPAÑOL) 2 immigrant farmworkers have been arrested and are being held on immigration charges after participating on a march calling for better pay and living conditions from Ben & Jerry’s.

Mexican immigrants Yesenia Hernandez-Ramos and Esau Peche-Ventura were arrested Saturday and were being held on immigration charges, the Vermont Department of Corrections said.

A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman told Vermont Public Radio they were stopped in a routine check a few miles away from the U.S.-Canada border. The immigrant rights group Migrant Justice said they were arrested as they were returning to the farm where they work and live in Franklin County.

Protesters demonstrated Monday afternoon outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in St. Albans and in the morning at a correctional facility in South Burlington where Hernandez-Ramos was being held.

“We were there to denounce the arrest of Esau and Yesenia and to call on ICE to use their discretion to release them back to their families, back to their community so they can continue to live and work in Vermont and continue to raise their voice for their dignity and human rights,” said Will Lambek, an organizer for Migrant Justice.

The state has about 1,000 Latino farm workers working or seeking work, and many are in the country illegally.

Migrant Justice says several of its leaders have been targeted for arrest by ICE in the past year.

Among them were Enrique Balcazar and Zully Palacios, who protested on Monday. They were arrested in March and were released later that month.

Lambek said a lawyer had met with Hernandez-Ramos and Peche-Ventura on Monday.

The Milk with Dignity program was created in 2014 by farmworkers and Migrant Justice to ensure that farms provide them fair wages and working conditions and decent housing. In 2015, Ben & Jerry’s agreed to join the program. Since then, the two sides have been negotiating over the details.