News last week that Vermont has long had a standing policy of “looking the other way” when it comes to migrant workers residing in this country illegally has disturbed many around the region.
The announcement was made Sept. 15 by Gov. Peter Shumlin after two Mexican laborers were pulled over by Vermont state troopers, detained and later turned over to U.S. Border Patrol Agents.
The troopers were following the law, but Shumlin made it clear that he wants his state to be able to interpret the law as it sees fit — meaning not turn over undocumented workers to the federal government for deportation.
“We have always had a policy in Vermont where we kind of look the other way as much as we can,” the governor told reporters. “I just want to make sure that’s what we’re doing.”
“We know the federal government wants to send them home. And we don’t,” he said.
Comments from readers have ranged from those sympathetic to the workers and the farmers who often have difficulty filling badly needed minimum wage positions, to utter outrage against a governor who would support jobs for illegals over jobs for his own state’s unemployed.
There is certainly merit in both arguments, but from our perspective it appears Shumlin was simply being honest.
Right or wrong, the fact is migrant workers do make up a significant number of employees in places where American citizens just don’t want to work for the paycheck offered — like dairy farms. Like meat processing plants. And, politicians have been turning their backs to it for decades.
Shumlin was just manning up and telling it like it is: It’s going on all over the country.
While Shumlin’s honesty is refreshing, his methodology is anything but.
First, he is advocating for breaking the law, not changing it.
This editorial is the collaborative opinion of a board comprised of Thom Randall, Fred Herbst, Lou Varricchio, Keith Lobdell, Jeremiah Papineau, Andy Flynn and John Gereau. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.