This past Tuesday, the 13th of September, two migrant farm workers were arrested during a “routine traffic stop”. VT Governor Shumlin has ordered an investigation. Excerpts from The Seven Days Blog article with my responses.
According to Hoag (the Driver a US citizen), during the stop State Trooper Jared Hatch radioed back to a supervisor to check whether he could ask the passengers about their immigration status. As Hoag recalls, the trooper then told him that he could, as long as the farm workers were not victims of or witnesses to a crime. When Lopez and Antonio couldn’t produce documentation, police took them into custody and called the Border Patrol.
Response – First, this is a breach of the VT State Police’s bias-free policy that The director of the state police says they take seriously. Profiling someone because they look like a foreigner is racial discrimination, his motive was to find out if they were illegal immigrants, plain and simple. Second, none of the migrant workers were driving so they were not required by law to produce any identification, only if the officer had probable cause to believe they had just committed a crime or he had a warrant. There is no law in Vermont requiring people to carry or produce ID on request of an officer unless you are driving.
“Through the course of the traffic stop it was learned that the passengers were allegedly residing illegally in the United States,” a state police press release said.
Response – The officer had no right for interrogating them without a warrant or unless they had been crossing a boarder. As far as the details of this stop have been reported this should be considered racial profiling.
It is clear this is one of those issues people have a lot of opinion on, just read the comments on the 7 Days Blog. The problem is, opinion means nothing when it comes to the law. It appears this officer over stepped his jurisdiction, it will be interesting to see the findings of the Governor’s investigation.
See the Blog article that details in text and video the arrest of protesters who were standing in solidarity with the migrant workers – http://7d.blogs.com/blurt/2011/09/video-migrant-farmworker-leaders-detained-3-protesters-handcuffed-and-arrested.html