Should migrant farm workers, some of whom are not citizens, be allowed to apply for a driver’s license?
That question is being considered this week by the Vermont Legislature. No decisions are expected anytime soon; instead, the idea is to appoint a study commission.
On Tuesday, members of the Vermont House Transportation Committee heard testimony from a farm worker who couldn’t get a ride to the emergency room after being kicked by a bull. His co-workers didn’t have Vermont driver’s licenses and he was afraid to call an ambulance. He ended up waiting for 24 hours after the accident ― until his employer could arrange a ride.
The worker in this situation, Danilo Lopez, pointed out that he and his co-workers contribute to the state’s economy.
“Without me and my co-workers, a lot of these farms wouldn’t be here,” he was quoted in this article by the Burlington Free Press.
Lopez’ story illustrates the plight that many migrant workers face ― feeling confined to the farm because they fear deportation. Read “When will immigrant workers emerge from the shadows?,” which talks about the tragic death of another migrant worker in Vermont a few years ago and how none of his co-workers were able to come to the vigil for fear of deportation or the fact they had to work.
The latest article in the Burlington Free Press prompted a lively debate in the reader comment section. Most of the readers were against the idea of granting driver’s licenses to migrant farm workers.