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Dairy workers detained following weekend protest - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Dairy workers detained following weekend protest

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ST. ALBANS, Vt. -

Protesters gathered outside a federal immigration enforcement building in St. Albans Monday after a Mexican couple was arrested over the weekend. 

"We are here demanding freedom for Yesenia and Esau," said Abel Luna with Migrant Justice.

Members of Migrant Justice rallied outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in St. Albans protesting after the Mexican couple was arrested and detained following a traffic stop in East Franklin on Saturday night. "We are demanding that they are released immediately, because they need to come back to our communities,"  Luna said.

In a statement, a supervisor from the Swanton sector of U.S. Border Patrol said: "...(an) agent stopped the vehicle and during questioning determined the occupants may be illegally present in the U.S.  The two occupants were taken to the Border Patrol station for further investigation where they were arrested for immigration violations. Both occupants were turned over to ICE ERO."

"No enforcement action from either Border Patrol or ICE is random. We've seen a targeting of immigrant farm workers, as a community," said Will Lambek with Migrant Justice.

Migrant Justice says the two are 19-year-old Yesenia Hernández-Ramos and 26-year-old Esau Peche-Ventura -- both dairy workers on a Franklin county farm.

Hours before their arrest, the two had just rallied at the Ben & Jerry's factory, calling on the company to improve working conditions on dairy farms.

Democratic Congressman Peter Welch called news of the arrests concerning. "We need the labor. We have to milk the cows. This has a real significant potential harm to Vermont farms," he said. 

Both Hernández and Peche were being held at state correctional facilities as of Monday morning. Migrant Justice says at least one of them has been able to speak to an attorney. They will appear before a federal judge over the next couple of weeks.

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