Letter to the editor: Separate law enforcement from immigration action

A Letter to the People of Addison County:
As members of a faith community, we are appalled by news of recent harassment and terrorizing of our farmworker neighbors in Bridport, Addison County. We are saddened to learn that there are fellow Vermonters who would deliberately attack farmworkers’ homes, shout at them and shoot guns to frighten them. Why would anyone want to terrorize farmworkers who are working hard in the dairy industry and trying to raise their families? It may be difficult to imagine how much terror these actions cause in the hearts of the farmworkers and their families trying to stay safe inside their homes, or the additional stress upon farmworker organizers who have experienced similar terror themselves.
As people of faith we hope and work for racial equity and respect among all people. We support Migrant Justice’s efforts to separate police actions from immigration enforcement through a stronger Fair and Impartial Policing Policy. This separation is especially important here, as state police have been called upon to help stop harassment of farmworkers and to help find those at fault. It may be difficult to gain farmworkers’ trust of police asked to help solve this crime because of painful past experiences of police cooperation with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
We are aware of social and economic injustice in our land, of people who justly feel deeply alienated and tend to seek scapegoats for their anger. This may be an opportunity to see that farmworkers are not the cause of this injustice, that we are all caught in a larger system that values money and power over people and life.
We hope that the wrongdoers will be found and held accountable in a process of restorative justice, and be helped to understand somehow that farmworkers are not their enemies. May love, respect and peace prevail for all.
Sylvia Knight, The Rev. Stannard Baker and members of the Jubilee Justice Committee of St. Paul’s Cathedral

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