Migrant Justice settles lawsuit with Vermont DMV

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Wednesday morning, migrant dairy farm workers signed an agreement with the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles. It comes after allegations that the DMV provided information from driver’s license applications to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“This information was key and essential in the deportation of a mass number of people from our state,” said Enrique Balcazar, spokesperson for Migrant Justice. “We will never know the full impact of this betrayal.”

Balcazar was one of the people arrested by federal immigration authorities. In his case, DMV employees sent ICE copies of his personal records with the word “Undocumented” in the margin. Migrant Justice said between 2016 and 2018, more than 40 people affiliated with their organization were arrested. The agreement will create a host of protections to ensure their information is not misused going forward.

“If ICE comes looking for that information, DMV simply won’t have it to share,” said Lia Ernst, attorney at ACLU Vermont.

Under the agreement, DMV staff will no longer be able to retain copies of birth certificates, passports, and other sensitive information. They’ll also be required to undergo training in fair and impartial policing. Migrant justice says everyone can now get their license without fear or discrimination.

“In my own case, I haven’t gotten a drivers license in this state. But thanks to this agreement, I will now be able to go forward with confidence and feeling safe in exercising this right,” said Uriel of migrant justice.

The DMV must also hire an auditor for a 18 months to ensure they comply with the agreement.

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