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Federal Judge Releases Two Vermont Migrant Activists, Third Remains Detained

Protesters from Vermont and Massachusetts carry a sign with the name of the three activists, Enrique "Kike" Balcazar, Zully Palacios and Alex Carillo-Sanchez, outside the court house in Boston, March 2017.
Jesse Costa
Protesters from Vermont and Massachusetts carry a sign with the name of the three activists outside the court house in Boston Monday.

Two Vermont immigration rights' activists arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents earlier this month were released on bail by a federal immigration judge in a Boston court Monday. A third was denied bail because of a DUI charge, which the state of Vermont had dismissed.

Several hundred protestors marched outside the federal immigration court in Boston, protesting the detention of three Vermont immigrant rights' activists.

Enrique Balcazar worked on Vermont dairies for several years before becoming a full-time leader with Migrant Justice. He was arrested in Burlington while driving with his girlfriend and fellow activist, Zully Palacios, who overstayed her visa by about eight months.

The activists' attorney, Matt Cameron, says his clients were targeted for their outspoken activism on behalf of dairy farm workers in Vermont.

"They've been the target for some time of surveillance and targeting, and we know that they were the targets," Cameron said Monday. "There's nothing about Enrique that would set him apart other than outspoken advocacy for his community."

A representative from ICE says the agency does not target individuals based on political beliefs or activism.

Palacios and Baltazar were each released on $2,500 bail.

The third activist, Alex Carillo-Sanchez, will remain detained with no bail due to a previous DUI charge, although the state of Vermont had dropped those charges. Carrillo-Sanchez is married to a U.S. citizen with whom he as a child.

Brendan O’Neill with Migrant Justice told the crowd that Carillo-Sanchez’s outcome was unexpected.

"To be honest, it’s about the worst result one could expect for someone who is a father with a daughter, a Vermonter, a friend and hard worker," O'Neill said. "It’s a difficult result."

Palacios and Balthazar could be returning to Vermont as early as Tuesday.

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