The future of nearly 150 Maine residents will be on the line Tuesday as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the Trump administration’s attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

As undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children, the Mainers are among some 700,000 people nationally who could be subject to deportation if the court agrees to terminate a program established under former President Barack Obama.

A broad coalition of advocates for keeping DACA in place will host a call-in news conference Tuesday to highlight what a reversal of the program could mean for Maine. The group initially scheduled an event in Bangor but canceled it because of the forecast for snow and ice.

Former Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci is among the business, religious and educational leaders who are urging Maine’s U.S. senators to take action to protect the DACA program as the high court begins to hear oral arguments on the latest challenge.

Baldacci, who is running for the state Senate as a Democrat, said the issue is important for Maine and the nation as a whole for two reasons: the United States was built by immigrants and deporting people who are already contributing members of society doesn’t make sense.

“Including my own family, which came from Italy and Lebanon,” Baldacci said. “It’s important to attract immigrants here. Our economy really depends on it, especially with labor markets as tight as the one we are in now.”


In Maine, 95 people had received work authorization through the program by 2017. A nonpartisan national group that supports immigration reform,, estimates the number in Maine in 2019 at 143. Additionally, an unknown number of registrants who are residents of other states but are in Maine attending college or working could be affected.

The Portland-based Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project estimates that as many as 300 immigrants living in the state could face deportation if the high court strikes down the program, which has withstood lower court challenges by the Trump administration.

Trump has tried to use the law as leverage in his efforts to get Congress to fund a multibillion border wall project along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

As many as 700,000 immigrants could be deported. Many of them were brought to the U.S. decades ago when their parents entered the country illegally. The so-called “Dreamers” could lose their legal right to remain in the U.S. if the program is ruled illegal by the court.

Trump first announced he would rescind the program in 2017, but that action has faced numerous challenges and the program has largely been maintained by lower court decisions.

Obama created DACA in an executive order in 2012. The program does not offer a path to permanent legal residence, also called a green card, or citizenship. But it allows eligible immigrants to live and work in the United States with two-year, renewable work permits.


In Maine, the ILAP, with offices in Portland and Lewiston, has been the point organization for DACA recipients here and living in fear of deportation should the program come to end.

ILAP has signed onto a legal brief that will be part of the case heard by the Supreme Court starting on Tuesday. That brief, among hundreds filed in the case, argues among other things that DACA recipients announced their presence in the U.S. under the program in exchange for amnesty from deportation or other legal actions.

“Relying on these assurances, DACA recipients applied for work authorization, pursued their educations, planned for their families’ futures, and improved their lives in ways they had dreamed of for years,” the brief states. But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, under Trump’s administration in 2017, “abruptly rescinded DACA, causing immediate chaos, uncertainty, and fear.”

The House passed legislation in June to protect the program, but the Senate has yet to take action on that legislation.

In an October blog post, ILAP urged Mainers to contact Maine’s U.S. senators, Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, to urge them to push their colleagues to take up the House bill quickly.

“Rather than force DACA holders to wait in fear and trepidation over the SCOTUS ruling, Congress could remedy this immediately by passing the Dream and Promise Act in the Senate (the House already passed it in June),” the blog post said.


A 2018 attempt by Collins and King to push a bill through the Senate that would have given “dreamers” protection while providing an additional $25 billion for border security over the next 10 years failed to gain the support it needed to pass. The measure also would have provided dreamers with a pathway to full U.S. citizenship.

Baldacci, the brother of former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, will be joined Tuesday by David Barber, the former president of Barber Foods and a board member for the Maine Business Immigration Coalition; Greg Dugal, the director of government affairs for Hospitality Maine; Chris Linder, a board member with the Maine MultiCultural Center; Rob Glover, the University of Maine’s chapter leader for the Scholars Strategy Network; and Amy Winston, state policy director for Coastal Enterprises, Inc.

Representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Maine as well as Penobscot Community Health Care also are expected to attend the 11 a.m. news conference.

Baldacci said the coalition of people and organizations that has formed to urge the Senate to act shows how important the issue is and how much support dreamers have in Maine.

“It doesn’t help America any by sending these kids back to a country they’ve never known,” he said.

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