Courts & Corrections

ICE detains two more Migrant Justice activists

Migrant Justice
Migrant Justice activists Marita Canedo, left, Enrique Balcazar and Abel Luna address reporters outside Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Burlington offices. Photo by Morgan True/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Enrique “Kike” Balcazar, 24, from Mexico, and and Zully Palacios, 23, from Peru, late Friday afternoon, according to an activist with the group Migrant Justice.

They are the third and fourth members of the group to be detained by ICE agents this week. Caesar Alex Carillo-Sanchez, who goes by Alex Carillo, was arrested outside the Chittenden County courthouse in Burlington Wednesday morning.

Will Lambek, a Migrant Justice organizer, said he received a call from Balcazar around 5 p.m., during which Balcazar said he had been pulled over on Shelburne Road and was being arrested by agents. Lambek showed up just as Balcazar and his passenger were loaded into separate ICE vehicles, he said.

Palacios is also a Migrant Justice activist. Neither Balcazar nor his passenger were facing any criminal charges, according to Lambek, and he declined to comment on their immigration status.

An ICE spokesman did not return a message Friday seeking confirmation of the arrests and information about what led to the car stop.

Balcazar is a prominent member of Migrant Justice, and a regular at protests and rallies. He was an advocate for Vermont’s driver’s privilege card law, a policy implemented in 2014 that allows individuals to get a driver’s license without proving legal presence in the United States.

He was also a member of Attorney General TJ Donovan’s recently created task force on immigration issues, which was initiated to address deportation orders issued by President Donald Trump. Donovan could not be reached for comment Friday.

“We’ve heard from other people arrested by ICE in the past that agents have been targeting (Balcazar) for some time now,” Lambek said.

“It’s obvious that the local ICE office is looking to discourage immigrants in Vermont from organizing for their rights and dignity by attacking the only organization led by members of their community. They’re hoping to break the community’s spirit by targeting its leaders,” he added.

Migrant Justice protest in Burlington

At noon Saturday supporters are gathering on Church Street in front of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington and marching through the city to the Federal Building  on 11 Elmwood Ave.

Friday night protesters with Migrant Justice demonstrated outside the ICE field office in St. Albans where Balcazar and Palacios are likely being detained.

Earlier in the week the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union decried Alex Carillo’s arrest, saying that agents are trampling people’s rights.

Carillo was arrested on his way to a hearing stemming from a 2016 driving under the influence charge, which the state was preparing to dismiss at the hearing.

“It’s clear to us this is political retaliation,” Lambek said of Friday’s arrests.

ICE is following guidance in a January executive order from Trump that broadens enforcement priorities to include people who have been “charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved.”

James Lyall, the executive director of the Vermont ACLU, said the president’s order takes the basic legal principle of innocent until proven guilty and “stands it on its head.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said ICE officers arrested 23-year-old Carrillo after a “targeted vehicle stop” Wednesday. He is being held pending deportation proceedings.

No information was available Friday regarding the detention of Balcazar and Palacios.

In a statement provided by Migrant Justice earlier in the week, the Rev. Joan Javier-Duval of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier said, “Trump’s new deportation policy inhumanely tears apart families and communities. The arrest of Alex Carillo will only cause more fear within Vermont’s immigrant farmworker community and cause more people to live in the shadows.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7:55 a.m. March 18.

Enrique Balcazar, Zully Palacios
Enrique Balcazar, 24, from Mexico, and Zully Palacios, 23, from Peru, are both well-known advocates for human rights in the state of Vermont. Courtesy photo

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  • Barry Kade

    A legal path for immigrant workers is the only realistic solution. Though I would like to see an investigation by Vermont to determine if State resources were used to tip off the feds.

    • Felicia Scott

      There already is a legal path to immigration. A visa is applied for and you come to the US and leave when the visa expires. This works in other countries as well as our own. If you want to stay in the US you apply for citizenship and if accepted you become a citizen and you can stay. The US law on immigration is clear and easy to understand, and is much less restrictive than the immigration laws, say, for Mexico. Vermont doesn’t need to waste money investigating the proper reporting of illegal aliens to federal authorities.

    • Steve Baker

      The legal path is called “follow the law”

  • Lester French

    It appears that there’s some effort being made to enforce the laws of the United States. If you don’t like the laws then make an effort to have them changed.

    • Dominic Cotignola

      Why are employers not getting in trouble hiring these people that you believe to be illegal? We have laws about that. There is a Government registry that you can look up online to see if anyone in the country is so called “illegally here”. It was started by George W. How about we throw these employers in jail or deport them to their original nationality of their parents or grandparents. Show proof that they made an honest effort to see if they can legally hire and employ migrant workers. If the employer pays their fair share in taxes by not hiring under the table. Paying in cash?

      Don’t see these laws being enforced?

      • Steve Baker

        Many of us are in favor of the employers being penalized. I don’t think that is your intent though. And just how would you deport someone to their land of origin if they are a US legal citizen?

      • chris wilmot

        Because vt officials don’t enforce the laws. The SAME people backing illegals are the ones who refuse to enforce our laws.

      • Phil Greenleaf

        These are good points. In addition there is shameless corporate tax evasion occurring all across the land. We spend every day among felons walking free (domestic abuse primarily) and there isn’t much outcry for a national witch hunt on abusers. It’s obvious that Trump et al believe undocumented immigrants to be easy targets. Easy solutions for the criminally feeble minded.

  • Renée Carpenter

    “By targeting people charged but not convicted of any crime, Trump’s deportation policy takes the legal principle that people are innocent until proven guilty and stands it on its head,’ said James Lyall, ACLU of Vermont executive director.

    “’ICE has long stayed away from courthouses and other sensitive locations, for good reason: If people are afraid to go to court, our system of justice is compromised. This arrest isn’t just an attack on the immigrant community — it’s also an attack on the legal system itself,’ Lyall added.”

    Thank you for following this story, and posting as soon as you did (I saw it yesterday evening).

    I’d like to see this story include the context: Migrant workers run our dairy farms. There is NO viable immigration policy for these year-round workers. THIS is the key issue that has been under discussion for years now: Immigration policy and protocols have not worked in the best interests of farmers, of consumers, or of workers willing to do the long, hard and difficult jobs of commercial dairying, which is still one of Vermont’s top economic engines. We loose our year-round migrant workers and we are hobbling our food system and economy.

    Every story about ICE detaining Migrant Workers in Vermont should focus on this most important point. I’m no “expert” other than being a concerned, aware, and humane citizen who happens to get my milk, eggs, some produce and meat from a local organic dairy farm that relies on many of these lovely, kind, and hard-working people who are my neighbors. Ask the farmers. They can tell the stories better than I.

    If Vermont cannot protect its residents from the machinations of the current national frenzy, we are ALL in deep trouble. The U.S. used to be considered a nation of laws. Laws need to reflect justice. I applaud Vermont’s legislature for creating laws that attempt to support justice and humanity in our state.

    When a government that presumes to be a Constitutional Democracy targets those who organize for justice, we must be very alarmed and resist. Democracy is not about “public opinion” or ruling by majority. It is about “freedom and justice for all.” (anyone remember that phrase?)

    • chris wilmot

      These people have no problem breaking the law. Under Vermont misguided polio us they don’t have to show up for court as the state of Vermont will not enforce US laws if they are here illegally

      • Dominic Cotignola

        We don’t enforce the laws that employers break by hiring these people.

        • chris wilmot

          And? That is why vt will lose federal funding

    • chris wilmot

      We should not be exploiting workers. Vt farms can start hiring legal residents at competitive wages. If they fail- they fail like every other unsustainable industry. Vt farms cannot compet with states like Wyoming when it comes to cattle. It’s why our woods are littered with the failed farms of yesteryear- they figured out over a hundred years ago that vt was a poor state for cattle
      It’s time people wake up to that reality. You have had blinders on your whole life. Wake up – vt is unsustainable for cattle

    • Jon Corrigan

      Where in the article does it say these two are farm workers? I have no issue with ‘activists’ or those ‘who organize for justice’, but they shouldn’t have skipped the first step in the process – coming here legally.

    • Steve Baker

      I wonder how far you would get moving to “say Mexico” and starting your own advocacy activist group? The ACLU is clearly on the wrong side of the law here. The logic of targeting someone not yet convicted is asinine. And illegal cannot be convicted until he is apprehended and bought to court.
      While you continue to slander President Trump, remember these laws were not written in past while he was president, rather they were written in past years ago.

  • Mary Alice Osborne

    What can we do to help these people who have been detained by ICE? Where are they now and what is happening to them? How can we get involved to protest?

    • Steve Baker

      You can help them by paying for a bus ticket back to their home country

    • Tory Rhodin

      There was a demonstration yesterday in Burlington and there will be another on Tuesday at 4 pm at the State House in Montpelier. There are also petitions you can sign which appear to be having a positive effect.

  • chris wilmot

    Having the attorney general creating a “task force” with criminals breaking US law with the goal of avoiding the enforcement of said laws amounts to treason
    The AG needs to resign

    • Jon Corrigan

      If the AG felt so confident about including an illegal alien on a state ‘task force’, why is this the first time we’re reading about it? Any input and/or actions taken on statements made by this individual should be stricken and/or nullified. If Vermont doesn’t have a requirement that all ‘task force’ members be legal residents of the state, the legislature should make that a priority.

  • Felicia Scott

    The Unitarian church should be more concerned with American families and the homeless than with criminal aliens. I thank the ICE agents for doing their job swiftly and professionally. I hope the deportations proceed even more swiftly.

    • Tory Rhodin

      I’m reasonably certain that the Unitarian Church (as well as the Religious Society of Friends/Quakers, the Episcopal Church, many Catholics, many Jewish communities) is deeply and actively concerned about “American families and the homeless.” Our faith also requires us to welcome and shelter “the stranger among us.” Scripture is unequivocal about this. For the record, the young people who were arrested are not “criminals.”

  • Daniel Burks

    Its refreshing to see that we still have some government organizations with enough respect for the rule of law that they will act in behalf of its enforcement. Our previous president made a hash of this aspect of the job and a recent election resulted in the re-emphasis of a significantly different point of view. It seems that some may have forgotten the rules and more importantly, that they don’t live in our house alone!

    • Larry Rudiger

      Daniel Burks, tell that to a struggling dairy farmer.

      • Marie Parker

        If a dairy farmer is struggling, they need to reassess if it is realistic to continue farming. The dairy farmer is breaking the law by employing undocumented/illegal workers. I am sure the farmer is not paying them a livable wage either. Cheap slave labor on the backs of an illegal. The farmer should be fined too.

        • gayla siple

          Marie, who do you think feeds us. Already too many Farmers have gone out of business because they don’t make enough to keep going. I grew up on a farm and in the summer when extra help was needed to hay and chop corn high school kids came to work as summer jobs. Today kids don’t have to work, they are handed everything. I would like to see people on State Assistance (if physically able), unemployment, and those given community service have to work on these farms for so many hours a week. They don’t show up-no check or arrested. Then they wouldn’t need illegal workers. Problem solved.

    • Phil Greenleaf

      Don’t start wth the Obama was weak on immigration bologna again. We have have fully covered that topic and shown that the Obama admin spent a huge amount of time policing the undocumented. His ‘rule of law” bona fides were fully on display. He spent more time working the center of the aisle on this issue than any other president because he was actually trying to accomplish something that would stand the test of time. You must have been ideologically asleep while all that was going on.

  • David Dempsey

    Enforcement of immigration laws by ICE under President Trump has fuelded the fire for anti-Trump protesters across the country. I agree with what Trump is doing to try to deport Illegal immigrants in the US who commit crimes. I respect the opinions of those who disagree with me who are cconcerned from a humanatarian point of view, even those who will put me in the Nazi, facist, racist category for saying this. But I don’t
    understand why it has become the most divisive the issue in the country since Trump was elected. I don’t remember this level of protesting during the Obama administration, during which nearly 3.1 million illegal immigrants were deported. This was more than the 2.9 million who were deported by Clinton and Bush during the 16 Years before Obama became president.

  • Steve Baker

    Lambek said.
    “It’s obvious that the local ICE office is looking to discourage immigrants in Vermont from organizing for “”their rights and dignity”” by attacking the only organization led by members of “”their community””. They’re hoping to break the community’s spirit by targeting its leaders,” he add

    It seems very ironic that a multitude of professional advocacy groups can be awakened with A moments notice to protect illegal, but I didnt see the same advocacy groups trying to protect the rights of the EB5 victims who were swindled by the state government and the Jay Peak fraudsters.
    It’s also ironic for Lambek to say they are looking for a pair rights and dignity in their community? I advocate sending them back to their community to firing their dignity and rights

  • rosemariejackowski
  • Dominic Cotignola

    You want to stop illegals from entering? Arrest the employers who hire these people illegally and pay them under the table in cash without paying taxes.

    • chris wilmot

      Except Vermont actively helps illegals, knowingly ignores federal laws being broke, and even offered to use inmates to replace the illegals being exploited.

  • JustinTurco

    My neighbor is the owner of the last dairy farm in my town. He’s in the process of losing that farm. He can’t make a profit and wont hire an illegal alien. So I’m not soft on the argument that farmers and illegals need some kind of protection. They don’t. People here illegally are criminals and when caught they should be sent home. If it raises the price of my milk…so be it.