December 12, 2018
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Democrats block public hearings on immigration policy

Contributed photo | BDN
Contributed photo | BDN
Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst

As the Legislature lurches toward adjournment in the next week or two, Maine people may be tempted to avert their eyes from the spectacle of sausage-making at the State House. The end of the session is always messy, and this year is no exception, as lawmakers render final judgment on a huge backlog of pending bills. Some will die “on the table” and others will die “between the chambers” — and some bills will just plain die — before lawmakers depart the killing fields and return to their districts.

But at least one piece of legislative roadkill may come back to haunt joy-riding legislators who cheered the carnage during the last midnight shift at Augusta’s sausage factory on the Kennebec.

LD 1652, “An Act Regarding Municipal Immigration Policies,” would cut off state funds to any municipality that prohibits police from gathering information about the immigration status of any individual. These are the so-called “sanctuary cities” — more aptly termed “harboring havens” — where cops are handcuffed by ordinances that bar them from even asking suspects whether they are in the country legally.

Portland adopted a harboring-haven ordinance in 2003, and the entire state of Maine was a harboring haven during most of the tenure of Gov. John Baldacci. He signed an executive order in 2004 that forbade state employees from inquiring into anyone’s immigration status. On his first day in office in 2011, Gov. Paul LePage rescinded that order, fulfilling a campaign promise and provoking shrieks of outrage from all the usual suspects in Maine’s left-wing progressive community.

Today, Portland is the only municipality in Maine with a “don’t ask, don’t tell,” catch-and-release approach to illegal immigrants. No doubt Portland’s ordinance was a “feel good” measure in 2003, but does it make any sense today?

FBI Director James Comey warned last year that the FBI is actively investigating ISIS terrorist cells embedded in all 50 states. Comey said the social media pitch to young Muslim men goes something like this: “Troubled soul, come to the caliphate, you will live a life of glory, these are the apocalyptic end times, you will find a life of meaning here fighting for our caliphate and if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are.”

Gov. Paul LePage submitted LD 1652 at my urging in early March. As the bill’s sponsor, I expected it to be referred to the State and Local Government Committee for public hearings and a work session. But when it appeared on the House calendar on March 15, majority leader Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, exercised the parliamentary equivalent of the “nuclear option,” effectively vaporizing the bill without debate or public hearings. McCabe’s motion to “table unassigned” passed on a straight party-line vote. The bill will remain tabled and will die at the end of the session unless and until McCabe chooses to recall it from the table.

Who knew House rules allow an individual legislator in the majority party to single-handedly block public hearings on an issue with life-and-death implications for Maine people?

The wanton killing of LD 1652 is another instance of Democrats in the Maine Legislature marching in lockstep with the extreme left-wing agenda of the Maine People’s Alliance. Known in conservative circles as the Marxist People’s Alliance, the group has lobbied aggressively for an open-borders policy that includes welfare benefits, driver’s licenses and voting rights for noncitizens.

The fact that Robert Alley of Jonesport was the only Democrat in the House who signed my petition calling on McCabe to allow for public hearings on LD 1652 speaks volumes. It’s evidence the Democratic Party in Maine has been hijacked by radical leftists who don’t give a damn about border security or public safety. Their only concern is maintaining their tenuous grip on political power in the wake of Paul LePage’s re-election with more votes than any governor in Maine history. As LePage’s policy initiatives move Maine people from welfare to work and nudge our beautiful state from poverty to prosperity, the left needs a new dependent underclass that can be counted on to vote for Democrats.

Given the shift in Maine’s political landscape from blue to purple since the 2010 elections, don’t be surprised if the Marxist People’s Alliance renews its push to grant voting rights to the growing number of noncitizen “new Mainers.”

For now, I am not optimistic about the prospects for getting public hearings on LD 1652 before adjournment. But I am confident Maine voters will remember in November and send a clear message to legislative candidates that public safety comes before political expediency.

Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is serving his second term in the Maine House of Representatives. He is the ranking Republican on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee. He may be reached at larrylockman@rivah.net.


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