LETTERS

Saturday/Sunday, Sept. 17-18, 2011: TANF, promises and illegal immigrants

Posted Sept. 16, 2011, at 10:48 a.m.

Nothing to celebrate

I am writing in response to Sen. Jon Courtney’s piece, “Legislative session was successful because we worked together,” printed on Aug. 12.

First of all, I applaud the senator for stressing the bipartisan successes the Legislature can celebrate this past session. Too often we hear only of the partisan fights in the Legislature when indeed there are many times Republicans and Democrats work together.

However, several of the “major accomplishments” the senator describes in his piece are far from mainstream and quite the contrary are what most Mainers would consider “extreme.”

Just one example are the changes made to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Part of the proposed budget considered by the Legislature was full-family sanctions for folks on TANF. This means that if a parent missed an appointment or didn’t complete the necessary paperwork correctly, parent and child would lose this vital support.

Cars break down. Medical emergencies arise when a single parent is caring for young children. These everyday occurrences, especially for single and low-income parents can result in a sanction under TANF. Punishing the child along with the parent (when in fact life simply gets in the way) is nothing to celebrate.

This change to the TANF program along with many others are far from examples of “accomplishments.” They are in fact deeply out of touch with the reality working Mainers face when attempting to navigate a starved employment landscape while being a good parent.

Melanie Rockefeller

Orono

Delegation not in prison

An old friend recently sent me this quotation from Horace Mann (1796-1859), which is appropriate for our times, and which I forwarded to our congressional delegation: “When any being less than omniscient binds himself to verbal article or dogma, he thereby turns language, which should be his instrument, into an iron encasement for imprisoning his soul.”

Consider this in relation to the 236 Republicans in the House of Representatives and 41 Republicans in the Senate who have signed Grover Norquist’s pledge that never, under any circumstances, will they raise taxes.

Happily, it appears that none of Maine’s four federal representatives have so imprisoned their souls and therefore have also refused to hold their state’s and nation’s residents hostage to this pledge of civil insanity. Keep it that way.

Christine H. Fowler

Belfast

Ashamed of Obama

As director of the TRIO Educational Opportunity Center at University of Maine for the past 20 years, I am extremely disappointed that as President Obama rolls out his American Jobs Act, the 124 EOC programs across America are waiting in limbo to see if we get continued funding.

Due to political bureaucracy, almost all of these EOC programs, which collectively serve to more than 200,000 under- and unemployed adults and helps them to enroll in higher education to improve their chances of finding meaningful employment, has laid off its employees and has had to discontinue critical services to the people we serve.

In a time when the President is touting the importance of programs that assist low-income Americans return to work, I am ashamed that this Administration has overlooked the EOC program and the families who rely on the services we provide.

David Megquier

Ellsworth

Illegal immigrants take good jobs

A recent Washington Post editorial, “GOP immigration nonsense,” perpetuates the same old myths about immigration: “The real magnet for illegal immigrants has been the U.S.economy, which has generated many low-wage jobs that the vast majority of Americans have not wanted.” Not true.

Contrary to the stereotype, most illegal immigrants are not picking fruit. They work in construction, transportation, services, maintenance and repair, etc. With 22 million Americans looking for full-time work, it’s inconceivable that none would take these jobs.

If immigrants were swamping the labor market of newspaper editors, then the editors of the Washington Post might have had a different perspective.

We have millions of illegal immigrants, not because our economy “needed” low-wage illegal workers anymore than the South “needed” slaves 150 years ago. There’s a difference between “need” and “want.” We have illegal immigrants because the federal government stopped enforcing immigration laws at the behest of powerful lobbies.

What to do? Don’t swallow the false choice that we’re stuck with two options: mass deportations (the mean one) or mass amnesty (the usual one). We have another option: enforce our laws impartially. Stop giving illegal immigrants a special protected status and free up seven million non-agricultural jobs for unemployed Americans.

A “humane solution” does not require us to protect people from the natural consequence of breaking laws. Unemployed Americans deserve those jobs. That’s the real issue. And most of the GOP candidates and the Washington Post are still missing the real issue.

Jonette Christian

Mainers for Sensible Immigration Policy

Congressperson for rent?

I live in a coastal town in Washington County. A group of men meets at Oscar’s Garage and Deli for coffee every morning except Sundays. The other day, we talked about the low price of lobster, and agreed that if lobster were made the national crustacean, the demand for lobster would increase and the price would go up. We have decided to look for help in Washington, D.C.

We’d like to rent a congressperson to work with us on this project. We don’t have much money, so we’re looking for a congressperson who is desperate. Questions: Do congresspeople have agents? Do they charge by the hour or the project? Are all payments under the table? We will be grateful for any names, contacts and service fees you can provide.

Charlie Cameron

Addison

AT clarification

The Sept. 8 Bangor Daily News included a story about Roxanne Quimby’s latest land acquisition in Elliotsville Plantation. One existing Quimby land holding listed in the article was an “Appalachian Trail Sanctuary … including a 7-mile section of the Appalachian Trail.”

The map that accompanied the story showed this sanctuary, but the area labeled belongs not to Quimby but to the National Park Service. Quimby owns none of the trail.

Except for private land over which the AT passes on the Golden Road and the 15 miles south of there that is owned by the Nature Conservancy (subject to a conservation easement owned by the state), none of the Appalachian Trail in Maine crosses privately owned land. More than 31,000 acres of the trail corridor is owned by the National Park Service. About two-thirds of the AT footpath in Maine crosses NPS lands; one-third crosses state-owned lands.

David B. Field

Overseer of Lands

Maine Appalachian Trail Club

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