MIDDLEBURY - Vermont farmers have justified hiring so-called undocumented foreign workers as farmhands for years, but now it appears federal officials are getting tough on the practice. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, also known as 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.
It's common knowledge that Vermont farmers hire illegal aliens to work as farmhands.
Gervais employs 22 farm hands including nine Mexicans. It is uncertain if Gervais' Mexican workers are legal or illegal. He told officials all of his workers are "legal" but he can't be certain that their documentation is accurate.
Vermont Agriculture Commissioner Roger Albee said four dairy farms-in Franklin County and Orleans County-received federal subpoenas Nov. 20. More will follow.
According to an anonymous source, ICE will make surprise visits to 87 Vermont farms over the next few weeks.
While not specifically mentioned, Addison County farm owners may find themselves in the fed's crosshairs.