Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


There are roughly 1,500 immigrants from Mexico and Central America currently working on farms in Vermont, helping to sustain approximately half of all milk produced in the state. But the lack of adequate visa-to-work options leaves these individuals without proper documentation to be in the US. As such, they are vulnerable to exploitation by their employers, susceptible to harassment from the communities in which they live, and under constant threat of deportation by federal immigration agents. Now, the US Department of Homeland Security—in charge of domestic defense and immigration—is attempting to use local and state law enforcement officers in the agency of their federal responsibilities. This “deputization” of immigration confounds the threats millions of undocumented immigrants already face in the US, by turning local police into vehicles for the enforcement of a discriminatory and overly-“securitized” immigration system.

On November 19th, 2010, Attorney General William Sorrell—head of law enforcement in the state of Vermont—publically released a formal recommendation to all state and local police departments to adopt a policy of bias-free policing (BFP), and offered a policy model that reflects advisement from rights-based advocates, legislators and law enforcement personnel. BFP is a set of criteria for law enforcement officials to follow when establishing reasonable suspicion or probable cause, while investigating a potential crime or misdemeanor. Generally, advocacy efforts around BFP can be defined as the following: seeking local-level legislative action from police departments and government to ensure the functions of state and local law enforcement remain separate from federal immigration agency, and to support the wellbeing of immigrants and the farmers who employ them.

This study provides a detailed summary of current US federal immigration law, and follows opposition to these laws as it becomes organized in Vermont around BFP. Concepts and methods of this policy advocacy approach are embodied in the Action Pack for Bias Free Policing across Vermont—an advocacy tool I co-created to help facilitate the statewide campaign by mobilizing community participation. This tool provides a framework of analysis: from collaboration around resistance, to identification of an objective, to selection of message framing and finally community outreach. Overall, this case analysis and campaign product offer knowledge and strategic examples for likeminded organizers throughout the US.


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Immigration Law | Inequality and Stratification | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Politics and Social Change | Public Administration | Race and Ethnicity | Work, Economy and Organizations


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