(Host) A Mexican government official says Vermont is the toughest state in New England for undocumented Mexican farm workers.
Rodrigo Marquez is the deputy consul for Mexico in Boston. Marquez told an audience in Middlebury last night that Mexicans who are stopped by state or local police in Vermont are routinely turned over to federal agents.
(Marquez) “Most of the Mexicans who for some reason happen to be in contact with the police – they eventually end up deported. Some people cheer, which is a good job for the border patrol. But most of the detentions are made by the local police, which makes it a little difficult when they want to have the trust of the Mexican community.”
(Host) The contact with police is frequently for traffic violations or other misdemeanors, Marquez said.
Marquez had statistics that compared Vermont’s arrest rate of Mexicans with other states in New England. Last year local or state police arrested 123 Mexicans in Vermont. By contrast, Marquez said, police arrested 33 Mexicans in Massachusetts last year.
Yet he pointed out that Massachusetts has far more Mexican residents, about 30,000 compared to about 1,000 in Vermont.
The consulate official spoke at a forum organized by the Addison County Migrant Workers Coalition. The coalition is a group of volunteers who have tried to raise awareness of the problems facing Mexican farm workers in Vermont.
Note: VPR will have more on this story later today.