WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal immigration officials say five Vermont dairy farms are being asked to provide records proving their workers are legal. But the names of the farms aren’t being released.
The farmers were targeted as part of a national crackdown on employers by federal officials.
There had initially been fears among Vermont’s dairy farming community that many others had been asked to provide documentation for their workers. But Gillian Brigham, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Homeland Security Department, says that’s not true -- it’s only five notices of inspection that have been served.
The federal immigration agency plans to audit the hiring records of 1,000 employers as part of a national effort against businesses suspected of using immigrant workers who have entered the country illegally.
Dairy farmers in Vermont and elsewhere have turned to imported help because of the difficulty of hiring people locally to do the work.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said the crackdown was poorly timed.
"I'm disappointed that this comes amid a crisis in dairy prices and at the start of the holiday season," Leahy said. "We have a broken system that does not work well for anyone, and especially for dairy farmers and the workers they need to keep their farms running. This is all the more evidence that we need workable reform of the agriculture visa system, and it can't come soon enough."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press