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

Morgan True

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