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This week’s edition!

Enough is Enough Local reps voted to give aid to asylum seekers

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

“As noted above, 8 USC-Section 1621 provides that aliens who do not fall within certain specified categories are ‘not eligible for state or local public benefits’.” Thus wrote Maine Superior Court Justice Thomas D. Warren in his ruling on a lawsuit filed by the Maine Municipal Association at the request of the Cities of Portland and Westbrook against the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

MMA, Portland and Westbrook asked the State of Maine to reimburse local cities a percentage of the money spent by the cities to support asylum seekers.

The Superior Court denied the plaintiffs’ petition, siding with the Department of Health and Human Service and the LePage administration.

This is a good example of why you should vote and why you should know how each candidate stands on issues important to you.

In this case, if you are a Lewiston taxpayer, a portion of your hard-earned money over the last few years was used to support non-citizens who we had no obligation to support. Why? Because we were told by the powers in Augusta that failure to support these asylum seekers would lead to additional costs to Lewiston taxpayers through lawsuits.

Over the past few years, Lewiston has lobbied and submitted legislation in an attempt to relieve taxpayers from this burden, but to no avail. Our local state representatives have failed to support Lewiston in this endeavor, opting to put party leadership over the people they were elected to represent.

But before we celebrate what appears to be a taxpayers’ win against the dictated policies by our liberal progressive friends, let us further examine the Superior Court’s ruling.

“The Statue provides a mechanism by which States can be relieved of this prohibition: States may provide that aliens otherwise ineligible for state or local public benefits under Section 1621 (a) may be made eligible through the enactment of a state law after August 22, 1996 ‘which affirmatively provides such eligibility.’ 8 USC, Section 1621 (d).”

This gave our progressive liberal friends a mechanism to ensure that you, the taxpayers, would continue to support asylum seekers.

Like a broken record, I have repeatedly written about LD 369. This bill, crafted in my office, would have brought relief to Maine and Lewiston taxpayers. No longer would taxpayers be forced to support asylum seekers and tourists who refused to go home. But our Democratic liberal friends completely changed the wording of the bill, creating an avenue to force Maine people to continue to support them.

This bill as rewritten will allow asylum seekers to pour into Maine and receive up to two years of state and local general assistance.

Lewiston Representative Jared Golden wrote an editorial in the Bangor Daily News supporting the revised version of LD 369 rewritten to support aid to asylum seekers. Interestingly enough, this article did not appear in the Lewiston Sun Journal, the newspaper of his district.

In his editorial, Golden complains: “These are the people whom House Republicans have made a sticking point in budget negotiations.” Golden then poses the question: “Do we want to be a State that offers shelter, food and opportunity to those seeking freedom from persecution?”

My answer: Do we want Maine known as an area similar to one of the U.N.’s international refugee camps? Give them sanctuary, and they will come and come and come.

Before concluding, I feel it necessary to list how our local (Lewiston-Auburn) legislators voted on LD 369, which would give taxpayer aid to asylum seekers. Sen. Brakey of Auburn voted “No.” Rep. Bickford and Rep. Sawicki, both of Auburn, also voted “No.”

Sen. Libby of Lewiston voted “Yes.” Reps. Brooks, Golden, Lajoie and Rotundo, all of Lewiston, voted “Yes.” Rep. Malaragno of Auburn voted “Yes.”

Next week we will continue on this topic.

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