From NorthCountryPublicRadio.org, Sarah Harris, 9 Apr 2012.
The dairy industry in Northern New York and Vermont relies heavily on migrant labor. A lot of the farm workers are undocumented. That causes problems when the workers have to do simple tasks that involve driving, like going to the grocery store or visiting the doctor. But Vermont legislators are discussing a bill that may change that. Sarah Harris reports.
The bill authorizes a study looking into whether migrant, undocumented farm workers could be granted driver’s licenses by the state of Vermont. So far, it’s passed in the Senate and has been approved by the governor. The bill is being read in the House this week.
Natalia Fajardo works for Migrant Justice, a farm worker rights group based in Burlington. She says that while they’d hoped the bill would result in the actual ability to grant drivers licenses to migrant workers, authorizing the study is a good start.
“So making a study committee is a compromise for migrant justice but we are very happy to be part of the committee and we’ll be driving the discussion this summer and setting up ourselves for successful legislation next session,” she said.
“For Danilo Lopez, a farmworker-turned-activist from Mexico, getting a license is about more than just driving. Natalia Fajardo translates.
“I want to clarify that this push for drivers licenses is not just about a piece of plastic but really about equality and trust for our communities to access police and be part of the larger community.”