Border Patrol agents in Vermont arrested two illegal immigrants who worked as dairy farmers following their participation in a Ben & Jerry’s protest march. Agents stopped the suspects as they returned from the demonstration to go back to work.
The agents arrested Yesenia Hernandez-Ramos and Esau Peche-Ventura on Saturday after a stop at a routine immigration check. The location of the stop is near the U.S.-Canadian Border. Agents transported the two migrants to a detention facility after determining they had no legal status in the U.S., the Washington Post reported.
The two illegal workers joined with others protesting conditions at a Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, Vermont, Breitbart News reported. The workers marched to demand better pay and living conditions on the farms that provide milk to the nationwide ice cream maker.
“We can’t wait anymore. We are going to pressure them and see what happens,” Mexican migrant worker Victor Diaz told reporters. Diaz is a Mexican immigrant who works on a dairy farm in Vergennes.
Following the arrest of the two illegal farm workers, others gathered outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in St. Albans.
“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,” Migrant Justice organizer Will Lambek told the Post.
The Washington news outlet reported that Vermont has about 1,000 farm workers who are Latino. They reported that many of those are in the country illegally.
The Migrant Justice group claims their workers are being targeted for selective enforcement by immigration officials. They brought up Enrique Balcazar and Zully Palacios, who protested on Monday. The two migrant workers were arrested in March and were released later that month.
Ben & Jerry’s responded to the protests with the following statement:
We are concerned that hard-working, productive members of our community, who contribute to the success of dairy farms in Vermont, would face criminalization. We need policy change that serves Vermont’s dairy workers, farmers, and industry as a whole.
The company said it is working to resolve its differences with the workers. They did not make any statement about the illegal immigration status of their workers.