Portland, ME – On behalf of the members of the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (MIRC), we congratulate Governor Janet Mills on her re-election. We are grateful for her policies that have helped Maine’s immigrant communities, such as expanding MaineCare access, lowering the costs of community college, allowing asylum seekers to receive General Assistance, and directly funding community-based organizations during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
MIRC is ready and eager to continue working with the Mills administration on issues that impact immigrant lives, such as housing (both short-term and permanent), healthcare access, legal representation, food distribution, and transportation. Needless to say, there is a lot of work to do and no time to waste, especially as we enter the harsh winter season. We are hopeful that since campaign season is now over, Gov. Mills and her administration will work on building permanent, dedicated infrastructure to coordinate immigrant resettlement and integration services, addressing racism and disparate treatments faced by Maine’s immigrants, and protecting and uplifting new asylum seekers, other immigrants, Latinx Mainers, Indigenous communities, Black and African-American Mainers, and other underserved populations.
People who speak many different languages and come from a lot of different countries have found their way to Maine in recent years. Unfortunately, many of them have not yet found a permanent home. Without the need for a lame-duck transition period to another set of staff and advisors, now is the time to work very closely with our MIRC collaboratives, Maine’s Congressional delegation, and municipalities. As much as our capacity allows, MIRC stands willing and able to work with all levels of government to put in place systemic changes at state and local levels to 1) identify sites in strategic locations to meet the needs of newly arrived individuals and families and provide shelter, food, and care for urgent medical needs, especially for pregnant women, babies, and unaccompanied minors, 2) coordinate housing and wrap-around services, 3) identify and distribute additional state and federal funding, 4) reform/unify General Assistance and ensure resources are being distributed across municipalities and used effectively, and 5) identify a central location to gather resettlement information and data of new arrivals.
We also want to wish former Governor Paul LePage and his staff well in the future. We hope he will continue to be one of the country’s leading Republican voices on the issue of lowering the wait time required for asylum seekers to obtain work authorization.
The Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (MIRC) is a convener of 97 member organizations committed to advancing and defending the rights of Maine’s immigrants. Our mission is to improve the legal, social, and economic conditions experienced by Maine’s immigrants, enhancing their lives while strengthening Maine through advocacy, information sharing, and collaboration. We actively prioritize the voices, perspectives, and decision-making of our communities as we acknowledge the status quo of systems that consistently disadvantage them, no matter which party is in power.
By: Mufalo Chitam, Executive Director