Continuing its fine coverage of the plight of undocumented workers on Vermont's dairy farms, the Addison County Independent reported yesterday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun inspecting Vermont dairy farms and subpoenaing their employment records. According to a Vermont Agency of Agriculture spokesperson, at least four Vermont dairy farms were issued subpoenas in an effort by ICE to ferret out farm laborers who've either overstayed their work visas or entered the country illegally. The inspections and subpoenas are part of a larger, nationwide sweep of more than 1000 workplaces, the Addy Indy's Kathryn Flagg reports.
Although the Agency of Ag hasn't identified which farms were targeted, the Burlington Free Press reported this morning that the affected farms were in Orleans and Franklin counties. It's estimated that more than 2000 undocumented laborers are employed in Vermont's dairy industry, though experts caution that reliable estimates are hard to come by.
Back in 2003, Seven Days first profiled the plight of Vermont's undocumented workers, who comprise an estimated 75 percent of all ag laborers in the region. Immigration advocates say that the vast majority are Mexican men, many of whom work long hours for minimal pay and support families back home.