#98: Migrant Justice, ICE, Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

On Monday, March 27th, I went with a carful of people to Boston to a bond hearing for 3 Migrant Justice organizers arrested by ICE two weeks ago. Migrant Justice is based in Burlington, VT, and advocates for immigrant and farmworker rights, especially on Vermont dairy farms . It seems clear that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) was targeting these young people because they are human rights leaders. In the car, I was sitting next to a man named Austin, a student at Middlebury College (VT) who is involved with Migrant Justice, so I interviewed him. In Boston at the rally, there are a few minutes of recordings of speeches and chants. Our goal was to put pressure on the judge to release, or lower the bond for, Alex Carrillo, Enrique Balcazar, and Zully Palacios.

I made a sign that said “Fugitive Slave Act of 2017?! Which side of history are you on?” Earlier this week I was at a Sanctuary in the Streets training where Margaret(?) gave some history about abolitionist tactics in the mid-1800s in MA. The history was presented with a disclaimer that slavery was a different beast than our current economic situation. But still, there are parallels.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made it federal law that people in the non-slave holding states were still required to aid in the capture of people who had escaped slavery. In 1850, northern anti-slavery people argued that non-slave states shouldn’t be forced to pay taxes to support the south’s institution of slavery. (I hear echoes of Trump’s new budget proposal and the wall on the Mexico border.)

One strategy of northern states was to refuse to let their jails be used as detention centers. Perhaps we can do that with Franklin Co Jail, in Greenfield, where ICE has recently paid $3million dollars to the state to regularly imprison 75 people who are said to have entered the country illegally. (Greenfield Recorder, Feb 23, 2017)

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