By Guy Page
The Windsor County town that adopted a “welcoming” ordinance for illegal immigrants last year now wants all second-home owners to report in when they arrive in town, Valley News columnist Jim Kenyon wrote May 5.
The Town of Hartford is located across the Connecticut River from Dartmouth College and is noted for its progressive policies.
Last year it adopted a policy saying that local police may not share information about a person’s citizenship with federal authorities. Town Manager Brannon Godfrey’s disagreement with this highly controversial decision was the main reason for his resigning last month, according to an April 30 report in the Valley News.
Now Kenyon, a longstanding columnist for the daily Valley News and other area publications, wonders why the same town that is hands-off about illegal immigrants has sent a letter to second-home owners inquiring about their whereabouts. He writes:
Still, asking non-resident homeowners to supply their name, address and phone number “so that we can be aware of your presence in the community” seems at odds with the spirit of the town’s recently adopted “welcoming” ordinance.
What if the town asked undocumented immigrants for their contact information, when they arrived in Hartford and from where?
No doubt the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented, but collecting this type of personal information without strict controls on its use and how it’s kept sets a dangerous precedent.
Hartford’s second-homeowners pay property taxes and participate in our communities when they’re here — including spending money — so anything that smacks of singling them out is neither wise nor fair.
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In other news related to illegal immigrants in Vermont, the Associated Press reported that 28% of the illegal immigrants caught while trying to cross the northern border (Washington to Maine, including Vermont) in 2019 were Mexicans, up from just four percent in 2016. “One Mexican man who crossed illegally to work on a Vermont dairy farm said it was easier than trying the southern border,” the AP story by Vermont reporter Wilson Ring said.
Also,on Wednesday May 6 Vermont Racial Equity Director Xusana Davis reported to the Senate Agriculture Committee her satisfaction that thanks to federal funding, immigrant farm workers will receive free Covid-19-related health care, just like non-immigrants.
Sen. Ruth Hardy (D-Addison) said the Open Door Clinic in Addison County has been treating the ag-heavy county’s immigrant farm workers. Hardy said she is also working on getting direct economic aid to immigrant farm workers. “It is on my mind, and the whole committee’s mind, on how we can include them in an ag relief package. They are not forgotten,” she said.
Vermont should consider creating a fund to provide economic aid for immigrant workers, including but not limited to farm workers, Davis said. She recommended Migrant Justice, the illegal immigrant advocacy group, be involved in drafting this legislation. Sen. Anthony Pollina (P-Washington) argued that if Vermont farmers are receiving recovery funds, their farm help also should benefit.
Read more of Guy Page’s reports.