By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
It appears the City of Lewiston finds itself in a Catch-22 situation. Foreign tourists, carrying legal visas issued by the United States government, have entered our beautiful country and are smitten by her beauty.
While this is a compliment to our city, the fact that they no longer wish to return to their native land presents Lewiston with a problem. They have no funds to support themselves. Presently, they are relying on the generosity and benevolence of Lewiston taxpayers to totally support them in order to fulfill their infatuation of our city.
They now find themselves in a life-threatening dilemma: how to obtain food, clothing, shelter and medications in order to survive. This has now become more pressing following the announcement by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services that the state will no longer fork over precious taxpayer dollars to illegal aliens.
But wait. Help for these over-extended tourists is breaking on the horizon. Like Genghis Khan and the Huns who swept through Europe and Asia extracting tribute, the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, the American Civil Liberties Union and Maine Equal Justice Partners are now threatening to exact punishment in the form of lawsuit against any city or town who refuses to pay tribute (money) to Maine’s over-extended foreign tourists.
These three unelected organizations seem to wield more power over state policies than our elected state officials. These organizations have built their power by bullying, intimidating and threatening towns and municipalities with costly litigation. With tight fiscal scenarios now facing our cities and towns, this is a winning strategy for these groups. In Lewiston’s case, we will be meeting to contemplate our next step.
It’s time for Lewiston’s state and local elected officials to leave the safety of the sidelines and enter the fray. This amounts to nothing more than legal extortion by these groups to force Lewistonians into supporting illegal aliens.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, states that denying aid to these asylum seekers is a violation of the Constitution. (I assume she’s referring to the United States Constitution.) If that is correct, why haven’t these groups filed suit against the United States government? Why haven’t they filed suit against the majority of states in our country that follow the federal government’s lead and provide no aid at all to asylum seekers?
AG Mills also claimed that legislation dealing with asylum seekers was never introduced. This is incorrect. Senator Garrett Mason of Lisbon introduced legislation at the City of Lewiston’s request that dealt with the asylum seekers issue. I went to Augusta and testified in favor of the bill before the Health and Human Services Committee.
Furthermore, I submitted written testimony in favor of this bill to the committee. It never made it to the floor of either chamber because it was killed in committee by a 6-0 vote.
Lastly, there was a public hearing on this rule change. Sue Charron, Lewiston’s welfare director, sent written testimony in support of this rule change to DHHS.
How long are we going to let the fiats of the progressive Left go unchallenged? It is time for our elected officials to assert their power and put these organizations in their proper place.
We now have the hype being spun by these progressive groups: “The illegals will find themselves homeless and starving.” I’m sure our churches, temples and mosques along with various charitable institutions will step forward to help our illegal visitors.
“How will we determine if they are illegal?” If the federal government denies them constitutional protection, they are illegal.
“What about showing these illegals some compassion?” How about showing some compassion to the fiscally strapped taxpayers and the City of Lewiston?
The question is: are we going to lie down and get walked over once again, or are we going to fight?
I congratulate Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonté in his newly appointed position as the head of the state’s Office of Policy and Management. It benefits the Twin Cities to have a local in an executive position in Augusta.
Lastly, while writing this column I received word that local veterans’ activist Jerry DerBoghosian had been called from this life by his maker to rejoin his shipmates from the USS Canberra. It will be strange to open up the daily newspaper and not see a picture of Jerry in the midst of local veterans or a group of children and proudly holding an American flag.
This continual bombardment of pictures had nothing to do with personal vanity, but his effort to keep veterans and history alive in the public domain. His selfless devotion to country and community defined him as a true American patriot.
Rest in peace Jerry.