Dear Readers of Maine,
I thought long and hard about this New Year. I thought carefully about the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I thought about my beginnings, my experiences, and my life as it is now.
I write about immigration because of its impacts on my life, its impacts on my children’s future in America, and immigration impacts on all of America today.
Many of you never thought about immigration, and many of you still do not today. Numerous friends of mine still do not but more and more do. So I will begin my story with this.
Prior to 9-11, long prior to, I was a native Californian. I never planned on NOT remaining a native Californian. That is my roots, my home and where my heart still lies.
Many of you call Maine your home, with your family roots and where your heart lays. But the state of Maine, as you recognize her today, may not be the same Maine ten years from now. I have good reason to declare this to you all. I never dreamed that I would write the same words about Colorado, but I write them today.
I moved out of California, fleeing what was once a wonderful birthplace for myself and my two children. We all settled here in rural Colorado where I found, much to my astonishment, low car and home insurance rates. Wow, we had hit the jackpot. I found emergency rooms devoid of people. I found wonderful schools, with teachers that spent their time educating students who wanted to be in school, and I found families who took real pride in being called "American".
In 11 years of residing in Colorado, that has changed. Our car insurance rates have been driven up, slowly and insidiously, by the lack of insured and licensed drivers. Our homeowner’s insurance costs are driven up by population growth coupled with ensuing crime. Our emergency rooms are filled with families needing, seeking, free treatment for the common cold. And our public school education is being driven down yearly by a need to educate and communicate with students whose allegiance lies in other countries and not with America. We have students refuse to stand for our Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools. Not that I would force my children to say a pledge to another country while visiting their schools, but out of respect, I would require them to stand. These students in Colorado refuse to stand in our tax-paid public schools because they state, "We are not Americans." And they add; "We can come and go across the border because we have every right to do so." They do not have 'every right' but they are being given these rights, legal or not, in our country.
Many of my friends happen to be immigrants here. I applaud them and I respect them and perhaps more importantly, they are my friends. Many of my friends are citizens here by birth. Again, they are my friends. And my friends are impacted by allowed illegal immigration even when they are unaware of it. So are you.
One of my close friends moved her family to Florida last year. She is moving back to Colorado, not because she does not like Florida, she loves Florida. She is moving back due to unchecked immigration issues in Florida, even though she does not realize it. One of her children gets nosebleeds from allergies. A bloody nose is not a huge problem, unless you are a resident of Florida. You see, due to the "Large numbers", and I will quote her here, “of immigrants who carry illnesses that are blood-born", any child who bleeds during school is sent home. Immediately. For the remainder of the day. So my friend's child is missing so much school she has no choice but to relocate once again. Is she an anti-immigration activist friend? No. We talk about education, we talk about our families, we talk about our lives and we do not discuss immigration. Perhaps we should. Perhaps all of us should, so I will be the first to address it with you. As I said early on, this government action or non-action regarding our porous United States borders will impact Maine at some point in your future. It will impact you by population growth driven by fleeing residents of other states, or it will impact you by larger and larger numbers of drug availability in your schools. Perhaps it will impact you in several ways, but rest assured, it will impact Maine down the road.
I am sure most of you do not recognize this as a problem in Maine. I know Colorado residents looked at me as if I had stepped off of another planet when I first addressed immigration issues here. We had less than 100 English as a Second Language Learners in our schools in 1995. We have 2,300 now, and per our school district superintendent, the number is growing daily. Not weekly, not monthly, not yearly, but daily. My children are ‘not afforded’ much here. Each year, during the No Child Left Behind district accountability meetings I listen to my various school principal’s talk about the programs they are dropping, to put to use the .5 or 1.0 (one half day or full day) teachers in the Language Acquisition programs instead of standard classroom curriculum. Each year, we lose a little more that my children will need to become active, productive, members of our society education-wise. Each year the reported incidents of drug abuse rise a bit more in our schools, just as they do in yours.
I know drug use is climbing in Maine; I have followed the national trends and data supplied from our government. I know that almost all of your children’s marijuana supply is imported through Mexico and delivered to Maine through New York Dominican gangs and also drugs are 'imported' across the Canadian border. Almost all of Colorado’s illegal drug choices are delivered through our porous southern and northern borders on the West Coast.
So when do you say "enough" to your congressmen and your senators? These are the people who you employ, these congressmen and senators, who swear to serve you, the American citizens, while taking their oath of office while they hold their hand on a Bible.
Ladies and gentlemen of Maine, this issue really is here right now for you. You have the Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project putting pressure on your governor.
Understand that these Maine organizations are powerful coalitions. One man, who you will 'meet' shortly, is John Connors, your local LULAC Maine regional director. I was introduced to this local Maine resident when he emailed me following my column, “Are Congratulatory Notes in Order?” He contacted me along with many other wonderful people living in Maine.
Have a quick read, in part, for what resides with you in Maine. (Hint! Mr. Connors!) Then ask yourselves again, is this really what we envision for America’s future? For yours? For your family’s?
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 2004 15:44:06 EST
Subject: We the people
Mr. Connors email: "We are also the people."
"There are many more people like me in Maine and the US they your kind."
"It makes my brown skin crawl to know that you live in Maine, we are here and we are growing and we are staying get over it boy."
PAZ jc (JConn10471@aol.com)
I won't "get over it" Mr. Connors, however, neither will I forget it.
In closing dear residents of Maine, I will leave you with the following thoughts.
“The Good” is the good in us all, the willingness to aid others, to open our hearts, to open our communities, and to open our country to others. Many of my friends would be unknown to me if we did not do this.
“The Bad” is the future for our country, and for our children if our politicians continue to put blinders on, do what pleases them, and not hear what the people who elect them request in our country.
“The Ugly” is what already resides here, in the lack of lawfullness, the lack of respect for America, and the lack of concern for American residents future.
Happy New Year to you all. May we now begin the healing process of what ails America.
Because United We Stand, and divided, we fall.
Marty Lich may be contacted at Martyincol@Juno.com
Portland, Maine, Profile of Drug Indicators, September 2004 (PDF)
Marijuana is readily available throughout Cumberland County. In addition to locally-grown marijuana, commercial grade marijuana from Mexico is also available in the area.
- In November 1998, 14 members of another Dominican ring were caught establishing bases in apartments in Portland and Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Investigators who arrested them on trafficking charges expressed amazement at the breadth of their operation, and the wholesale suppliers in New York City.
Latino Health and Community Service Inc.
169 Ocean St. 204/205
South Portland Maine 04106
Contact: John Connors, Executive Director
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.lulac.org
LULAC emphasizes immigration rights, Latino news, Spanish reading and writing for adults, stay in school programs, Head Start.
Maine State asked to provide driver test materials in Spanish
SOUTH PORTLAND -- John Connors, director of the league's Maine branch...
U.S. Representative Tom Allen
December 12, 2002
Resettling in a foreign country is almost always difficult, both for the immigrant and the community. Along with my colleague in the House, Representative-elect Mike Michaud, and Maine’s Senators, I will continue to press for more federal dollars to assist Lewiston, Portland and other Maine communities in funding services that meet the needs of refugees.
Prohibiting Immigration Status Inquiries by Government Employees
City Council Resolution, Durham, North Carolina, 2003
Governor’s Executive Order, State of Maine, 2004
Resource for discussing immigration issues in the classroom
"If we come here, it's because we're escaping from our problems and catastrophes at home. To be in your country, to live through a war, then to flee; then to live here, hiding from immigration, exploited on the job, without speaking English; it's not easy." - David Ochoa, Latino Voice Project Many New England communities from Portland to Burlington have experienced a surge in their immigrant populations, swelling the ranks of English as a Second Language (ESOL) students.
Senators asked to sign letter to Ridge
MHA Friday Report, March 12, 2004
MHA asked Maine’s senators to sign a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge asking for an 18-month delay in the final implementation of (Homeland Security's) visa screen.
Costs per K-12th grade general ed student: $7,018.79 annual cost per student
ESL (English-Spanish Language) costs: Millinocket: $12,882.31
ESL/Bilingual Education Instruction *