MIDDLEBURY - Vermont farmers have justified hiring illegal aliens as farmhands for years, but now it appears federal officials aren't buying the usual excuses. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, also known by the acronym 'ICE', raided the farm of Clement Gervais in Enosburg Nov. 19.The raid started what ICE observers said will be a series of raids on selected area farms.
Vermont Agriculture Commissioner Roger Albee said four dairy farms-in Franklin County and Orleans County-received federal subpoenas Nov. 20. More will follow. It's also common knowledge that Vermont farmers hire illegal aliens to work as farmhands.
In the case of Enosburg dairy farmer Gervais, his operation employs 22 farm hands including several Mexicans. It is unclear if his Mexican workers are legal or illegal immigrants. While he told officials all of his workers are "legal", he couldn't be certain that the documentation he was given is accurate.
According to news reports, ICE will target 87 Vermont farms over the next few weeks.
While not specifically mentioned, some Addison County farms may find themselves centered in the fed's crosshairs.