This case study examines the burgeoning collaborative efforts of immigrant rights groups and activists in Vermont. Between October 2006 and February 2007, these advocates engaged in a series of statewide forums and meetings to plan events and coordinate strategies. Through these meetings and interactions, the groups formed a statewide network to influence immigration policy change goals. The key policy issues of concern to one or more of the advocates included profiling and deportations resulting from local law and state police’s voluntary enforcement of federal immigration law, proposals for a temporary worker policy to meet the Vermont dairy industry’s needs and the provision of basic health care coverage for migrant workers. To achieve its goals, the network strengthened communication among immigrant rights advocates, built capacity for resource sharing and coordinated statewide events and forums.

The study seeks to answer: How effective have Vermont immigrant rights groups and activists been in forming a statewide network to influence immigration policy? What general lessons can advocates learn from their experience? This study draws upon data from primary documents, phone interviews with eleven leaders of all six of the participating advocacy organizations, informal interviews with local law enforcement officers and employees, conversations with state and federal government officials, review of immigration news coverage from various mainstream and alternative media outlets, and secondary literature review. The study finds that the network has established a significant level of statewide collaboration, coordination and communication despite notable resource limitations and differences among the advocates. However, this initiative has yet to define clear goals, include all stakeholders and the people most impacted by the policies, or achieve the scope to effectively address immigration policy issues in Vermont. Among the lessons that can be learned are the importance of involving the people most directly impacted by policies, the value of establishing support and linkages within an organization when pursuing policy change goals around evolving issues, and the necessity of establishing clear goals and objectives for an advocacy initiative.


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