Movement launched to halt deportation of Vermont migrant worker who fought for driver’s privilege

Migrant Justice, a Vermont-based advocacy group, announced Monday that it’s launching a national campaign to stop the deportation of its spokesperson, Danilo Lopez.

Danilo Lopez (center) speaks before Gov. Peter Shumlin signs S.38. Natalia Fajardo translates. Photo by Alicia Freese/VTDigger

Danilo Lopez (center) speaks before Gov. Peter Shumlin signs S.38. Natalia Fajardo translates. Photo by Alicia Freese/VTDigger

Lopez is a citizen of Mexico, but he’s spent the past six years working on dairy farms in Vermont. He was a frequent presence at the Statehouse this year, testifying on behalf of the state’s 1,500 migrant workers in support of legislation that allows them obtain the equivalent of a driver’s license.

In September 2011, Lopez, who is undocumented, was detained first by Vermont state police, then by the border patrol, after a car he was riding in was pulled over for a traffic violation. He appealed his deportation without success and has been ordered to leave the country by July 6.

Now that the driver’s license legislation has passed, Migrant Justice has turned its attention to the plight of one its most prominent organizers.

The group, which is partnering with the National Day Laborer’s Organizing Network, is circulating a petition that called on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to use “prosecutorial discretion” to overturn Lopez’s deportation order.

It’s also calling for Vermont’s congressional delegation to pen letters to ICE director John Morton, asking him to overturn the case.

Sen. Phillip Baruth, D-Chittenden, sponsored the driver’s license legislation that Lopez championed. Migrant Justice published the following letter of support from Baruth:

“I ask you to exercise your prosecutorial discretion in this case because Danilo has deserved that discretion through his personal conduct, but also because solving our intractable immigration problems will require skilled young leaders on boths side of the debate, and Danilo represents precisely that sort of judicious, sympathetic and level-headed leadership. We sorely need him here in Vermont, every bit as much as he needs your intervention to remain.”

Alicia Freese

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