In a classic case of shooting the messenger, state Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, and the chairman of the Maine Democratic Party are directing their heavy artillery in my direction because I called them out for protecting the flow of welfare dollars to illegal immigrants in Maine.

McCabe is the House majority leader, now running for a seat in the state Senate. He is upset with me and the New England Opportunity Project — a conservative nonprofit I co-founded last year — for sending a letter to his constituents detailing his role in killing proposed legislation that would have cut off state funds to any municipality that harbors illegal immigrants — so-called “sanctuary cities.”

Maine Democratic Party boss Phil Bartlett agreed with McCabe’s characterization of the mailer as “misleading,” and condemned the New England Opportunity Project as a “shadowy group.” But neither McCabe nor Bartlett identified, much less rebutted, a single allegedly “misleading” statement in the letter.

Simply put, they didn’t like the message, so now they’re shooting at the messenger.

As the author of the mail piece, I am glad to summarize its content for readers, and let them judge for themselves if McCabe has a leg to stand on when he denies that he supports welfare for illegal immigrants.

The mailer informed voters about Portland’s city ordinance that prohibits local police from inquiring into anyone’s immigration status unless they have been previously deported or have committed a felony, and the fact that Portland provides welfare benefits to noncitizens. I also reminded readers that the FBI has reported active investigations of Islamic State terrorist cells in all 50 states, and that the entire state of Maine was a harboring haven (or “sanctuary state”) for illegal immigrants during the Baldacci administration. Gov. Paul LePage rescinded Baldacci’s executive order on his first day in office.

In a brazen shell game last year, the city of Portland took state funding earmarked for school subsidies and diverted that money to an account that funnels welfare to noncitizens. Apparently city officials in Portland didn’t get the memo that the FBI is investigating ISIS cells from Maine to California.

Earlier this year, Maine people learned of a second ISIS fighter — Iranian refugee Adnan Fazelli — who settled in Maine as a refugee and then returned to the Middle East to die on the battlefield. Maine and U.S. taxpayers paid for Fazelli’s welfare benefits when he lived in Freeport.

The legislation I sponsored back in March would have cut off all state funding to any municipality that harbors illegal immigrants.

Here’s how I see it: If Portland wants to be an ISIS incubator and a magnet for illegal immigrants, the city can do it on its own dime. Considering that the two known Islamic State terrorists who settled in Maine — one in Lewiston, the other in Freeport — came here legally and slipped through the cracks of the federal government’s refugee resettlement program, it’s anyone’s guess how many illegal immigrants have settled in Portland over the past decade. The objective of the bill I sponsored was simply to close the spigot of illegal immigration to Maine.

But Jeff McCabe invoked a rarely used House rule to kill the bill without debate and without public hearings. McCabe’s use of the parliamentary equivalent of the nuclear option denied Maine people the opportunity to have their voices heard on this vitally important issue of public safety, not to mention the financial burden on taxpayers. And no reasonable person can deny that McCabe’s action encourages illegal immigrants to come to Maine.

Here’s the bottom line for me: Maine is not a rich state. In fact, we have seriously disabled and elderly Mainers, many of them veterans, who have lived here and worked here and paid taxes here all their lives, now languishing on wait lists for needed in-home services because funding is unavailable. Given these realities, we cannot afford to provide welfare benefits to noncitizens, and most certainly not to any more ISIS terrorists.

It’s about time McCabe explained himself, and I’m happy to spark that conversation.

Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is serving his second term in the Maine House of Representatives, District 137. He is the ranking Republican on the Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development Committee. He may be reached at: [email protected]


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