Migrant Justice: "Our Entire Community Feels Fear"

BURLINGTON, Vt. -

The divisiveness of the presidential race in 2016 continues even after votes have been counted.

Members of the Vermont-based group Migrant Justice/Justicia Migrante have expressed fear of what a Donald Trump presidency means for them.

Enrique Balcazar, 23 of Burlington, has been living in Vermont since he was 17 years old.

He moved here from Mexico and began working on dairy farm.

He's now a Migrant Justice organizer.

"Migrating here is a necessity that we do in order to survive, in order to feed our families and it's not something that we take lightly," said Balcazar, through a translator.

President-elect Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail to deport people who are in the country illegally and committing crimes.

"We're going to get rid of these people day one," he said at a rally in Iowa. "I am going to begin swiftly removing, criminal, illegal immigrants from this country."

Balcazar says he and his friends didn't take a Trump candidacy seriously.

"The divisions that exist in this country were reflected on Tuesday night. I was with families who were crying together when they saw the results and who are still crying," he said.

While Trump says he will focus on criminal undocumented workers, there is worry within these groups innocent people will also be deported.

"Our entire community feels fear, anger, sadness, for the things that he's been talking about, about separating families, about kicking us out of the country, but at the same time we realize that we're going to have to fight for our rights," said Balcazar.

"You would be taking away a huge portion of our dairy labor force," said Dan Baker, associate professor, Community Development and Applied Economics Department at the University of Vermont.

Baker researches the migrant workforce in Vermont.

He estimates there are roughly 1,000 undocumented workers employed at up to 250  Vermont farms.

"They want work. They work hard. There is a language barrier, but the largest reason is there isn't enough Vermonters who want those jobs," said Baker.

Baker says if mass deportations were to take place, the Vermont economy would suffer.

"It would be devastating to Vermont dairy industry. I have no doubt that the dairy industry would survive," said Baker.

President-elect Trump also said while campaigning he would triple the amount of Immigration & Customs Enforcement, or ICE, deportation officers and create a deportation task force.
 


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