While Maine families were enjoying our glorious August weather, the Morning Sentinel published an unfair and untruthful editorial claiming public officials, including me, who believe immigration should be legal, support some international “White Genocide” movement (“Our View: Trump amplifies ‘white power’ message,” Aug. 6). Speaking for myself, that’s ridiculous.

To be clear, I support strong border enforcement and legal immigration. I oppose open borders and sanctuary cities/states for illegal entrants. This common-sense position is embraced by the majority of Maine and American families.

I couldn’t care less about the color of someone’s skin, whether he or she wants to be part of America or not. I simply ask they follow our laws, including where and when to cross our borders and how to apply for citizenship and other protections. Any newspaper editorial implying otherwise is wrong.

Controlling our borders and knowing who’s in our state and country is critical to keeping us safe. It also helps prevent the inflow of illegal drugs that are killing our kids. While serving you in the U.S. House of Representatives, I worked hard to craft legislation which would have fixed this serious problem, and voted for the bills.  Instead of refusing to work with Republicans and the president, Democrats in Congress could use those bills as starting points to end this crisis.

Mean-spirited obstruction is not the Maine bipartisan way, and it’s hurting our most vulnerable citizens.

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This summer, about 450 African migrants entered the country illegally across our border with Mexico and claimed asylum after being caught by the Border Patrol. Then, they asked to be sent to Portland because some Maine politicians are publicly welcoming anyone who enters illegally, rewarding them with free housing, health care, food, and so on.

During a radio interview with Howie Carr this summer, Maine’s Chief Border Patrol Agent Jason Owens got it exactly right: “Word of mouth has spread that it’s a good place to live and they’re being treated well, so it’s attracting more people.”

Our elected officials have their priorities backwards. They should take care of Maine citizens first. It’s shameful when they move homeless veterans, disabled children, and at-risk seniors to the end of the line.

In July, the Portland Press Herald reported that the state tried to ship 46-year-old Hank Homer, who has intellectual disabilities, to Illinois, Virginia, or Florida because we don’t have enough Medicaid Section 21 group homes. There are more than 1,500 adults on this particular waiting list, and it can take years to get off it.

Not long ago, an investigation by WGME TV’s Jon Chrisos found some 18,000 Mainers are on waitlists for HUD Section 8 housing aid. Janetta Smith, whose situation was highlighted by WGME, has been living in a friend’s storage shack in the woods while waiting years for housing assistance.

Why should desperate fellow citizens be pushed out of state, or forced to live in a storage shack, while non-citizen lawbreakers receive taxpayer-funded housing in a snap?

A 2017 study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) found that illegal aliens cost American taxpayers $8,075 per person per year. That’s an estimated $3.6 million each year for the 450 African migrants who crossed the border illegally, and then asked to be taken care of by Maine taxpayers.

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reports a surge of approximately 742,000 individuals crossing our borders illegally during January through August of this year. That’s more than one-half the entire population of Maine in eight months!

Taxpayers don’t have endless pockets. There’s only so much money to go around. Elected officials of all political stripes should put the health and safety of U.S. citizens before those who enter our country illegally. That’s just fair — plain and simple.

The lack of border security and our broken immigration laws are hurting disadvantaged Maine citizens. This will only get worse unless, and until, Democrats in Congress work with President Trump to fix the mess. Gov. Mills and our state legislators should do their part by making it clear that Maine will start taking care of our own first.

My heart goes out to anybody trying to find a better life in America. We’re a country of immigrants, including my family, who immigrated from Canada several generations ago. But it’s gotta be done legally.

 

Bruce Poliquin is the former U.S. Congressman representing Maine’s 2nd District


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