Finding new workers is one of the top challenges facing businesses. Here in Maine, the problem is particularly acute as our unemployment rate fell to 2.9% in December. Allowing asylum seekers to look for work offers an opportunity to meet these demands. Under current law, asylum seekers must wait six months before they can look for work. The present system puts financial burdens on towns, cities and charitable organizations that pay for housing,food and basic needs. It is also unfair to new arrivals who want to work.

A bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Susan Collins would allow asylum seekers to look for work after thirty days. The bill does not expand who can be an asylum seeker; rather it simply says people who are already here legally can look for work after 30 days instead of having to wait six months.

The Mid Maine Chamber of Commerce voted to support this legislation. While there may be many aspects of immigration people disagree on, prohibiting people here legally from looking for work makes no sense. Allowing asylum seekers to find jobs and become self sufficient is simply common sense. Hopefully, our leaders can set aside partisan differences and pass Sen. Collins’ common-sense legislation.


Dan Bernier


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