Did Vt police target migrant farmworkers? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Did Vt police target migrant farmworkers?

Courtesy: Dylan Kelley Courtesy: Dylan Kelley
Courtesy: Dylan Kelley Courtesy: Dylan Kelley
Courtesy: Rob Fish Courtesy: Rob Fish
WCAX News agreed not to show the farmworkers' faces WCAX News agreed not to show the farmworkers' faces

Burlington, Vermont - September 14, 2011

Danilo Lopez and Antonio Mesa-Sandovail were on their way to work at a Vermont farm when the car they were riding in was stopped for speeding on Interstate 89 in Middlesex. The farmworkers say a state trooper asked for paperwork and kept questioning them about their immigration status.

WCAX News got an exclusive interview with the farmworkers through a translator. They asked that we not show their faces fearing deportation.

"We are human beings. They shouldn't be doing that. They should not be doing that," Lopez said.

The men say they stayed silent except to make a phone call. Lopez says he notified the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project, an advocacy group for migrant workers. Police say Lopez and Mesa-Sandovail are from Mexico and do not have papers to be here legally.

"The fear so many face when they are questioned about their immigration status, and I don't know if it's called racial profiling or what, but because of our look they called the border patrol," Lopez said.

The trooper brought the men to the Middlesex state police barracks where the men were handcuffed. The advocacy group staged a protest at the barracks, trying to prevent Lopez and Mesa-Sandovail from being brought to the Border Patrol Station in Richford for processing. Three of the protestors were arrested.

"We have no doubt it was racial profiling," said Natalia Fajardo of the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project. "I have no doubt that if these folks were blond with blue eyes, those questions would not be asked."

Outside the border patrol, about two dozen demonstrators demanded the men's release. Eventually they were released and now face a court date in front of an immigration judge.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, has called for an investigation into the traffic stop to make certain state police bias-free policies were followed.

Vt. State Police Director Tom L'Esperance issued a statement saying, "The Vermont State Police take seriously the necessity of ensuring fair and humane treatment of all people living and working in Vermont, regardless of their race, ethnicity, immigration status, or other personal criteria."

Lopez and Mesa-Sandovail say they're just trying to work, just trying to feed their families back home and fear they'll now be deported.

"Yes, we fear that," Mesa-Sandovail said.

"Any person who comes to work in the U.S. is here to provide for their families a better life, to give them food and to get medical supplies to them, etc," Lopez added.

For now, both men say they will be back on the job working at the farm they did not want to name. It's unclear when they'll be in court.

The driver of the car is an American citizen and did have a valid driver's license.

Darren Perron - WCAX News

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Friday, April 25 2014 4:04 AM EDT2014-04-25 08:04:41 GMT
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
  • Springfield police search for armed robber

    Springfield police search for armed robber

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:00:49 GMT
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
  • Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:03 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:03:45 GMT
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
  • Senator Sanders pushes for better access to primary care

    Senator Sanders pushes for better access to primary care

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:06 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:06:48 GMT
    Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing for better access to primary care for patients in Vermont and across the country.More >>
    Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing for better access to primary care for patients in Vermont and across the country. More >>
  • Burlington School budget one step closer to re-vote

    Burlington School budget one step closer to re-vote

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:09 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:09:20 GMT
    A new Burlington School Budget is one step closer to a re-vote in the Community.The Burlington School board voted in favor of a 67.4 million dollar budget. Dozens of parents and voters turned out Thursday night for public testimony on their thoughts and concerns on the new more expensive budget. A recent audit uncovered a 2.5 million dollar deficit forcing the board to slash about 2.5 million dollars in programming and staff. This new budget is 600-thousand dollars MORE than what was voted do...More >>
    A new Burlington School Budget is one step closer to a re-vote in the Community.The Burlington School board voted in favor of a 67.4 million dollar budget. Dozens of parents and voters turned out Thursday night for public testimony on their thoughts and concerns on the new more expensive budget. A recent audit uncovered a 2.5 million dollar deficit forcing the board to slash about 2.5 million dollars in programming and staff. This new budget is 600-thousand dollars MORE than what was voted do...More >>
  • Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:01:18 GMT
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
  • Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:31 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:31:24 GMT
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:29:39 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.