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Federal program hurt farmers?

Posted by wlpo on September 4, 2011

A federal program intended to identify and deport illegal immigrants is raising fears in Vermont, where Mexican farmhands are a staple of the $560 million dairy industry. Opponents say aggressive enforcement of the Secure Communities initiative could harm the state’s struggling industry. They also say it could turn many of the 1,200 to 1,500 migrant workers into prisoners of the farms because they’re afraid they might be arrested and deported if they venture out. The program requires state and local police to send criminal suspects’ fingerprints to the FBI, where they are run through a database to determine the suspect’s immigration status. Massachusetts and Illinois have defied a federal mandate to participate in the program. About 70 Vermont farm workers are asking the state to reject the program.

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