Maine’s dangerous decade-long experiment with open borders and welfare for noncitizens is blowing up in our faces. It’s time to pull the plug on this foolishness before more innocent people are injured or killed.
Who could have imagined, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, that Maine would choose to celebrate diversity by throwing open the doors to thousands of Muslim immigrants without regard to whether they entered the country legally?
Given this history, should we be surprised to learn that Maine has harbored at least two soldiers of Allah who waged war for Islamic State and turned up dead on the battlefield in the Middle East?
Left-wing progressives reacted to recent news of yet another Islamic State fighter from Maine — a Muslim “refugee” in our midst — by doubling down on the campaign to keep the borders wide open. A professor at Bowdoin College actually made the argument that restricting immigration will only help terrorist groups. Say what? Such is the mind-numbing irrationality of leftist elites who have insulated themselves from the impact of the demographic earthquake that has rocked Maine from Portland to Lewiston and beyond.
By executive order in 2004, Gov. John Baldacci turned the entire state into a harboring haven for illegal immigrants; state employees were not allowed to ask anyone about their immigration status. Gov. Paul LePage rescinded that order on his first day in office in 2011, but Portland had already enacted its own “don’t ask, don’t tell” ordinance in 2003, forbidding police from inquiring into the immigration status of any person. That city ordinance remains in effect today.
Last year, Portland took state funding earmarked for school subsidies and diverted that money to an account that funnels welfare to noncitizens, many of whom have not even bothered to apply for asylum in this country. Apparently, city officials in Portland didn’t get the memo that the FBI is investigating Islamic State cells in all 50 states.
In August of last year, three African immigrants living in Portland were arrested and charged with murder in the brutal beating death of Freddy Akoa. More than a year later, we still don’t know whether the accused killers entered the country legally or exactly where they came from because of Portland’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” immigration policy and the liberal media’s remarkable lack of journalistic curiosity about the suspects. We do know from the police report that a blood-splattered Bible was found near the body, which suggests a religious motive for the killing.
In any case, the vast majority of Muslim immigrants who have settled in Maine came here legally, including the two Islamic State fighters we know about: one from Lewiston, the other from Freeport. They slipped through the cracks of the federal government’s refugee resettlement program. If these guys got here legally, it’s anyone’s guess how many other jihadists settled in Maine during the time when Baldacci’s executive order was on the books.
And while it may be confidential information, it’s no secret that large numbers of these so-called “new Mainers” and their offspring are on board for the full boat of welfare benefits, from subsidized food and housing to free medical care.
Anyone who thinks these folks will be readily assimilated needs to look across the pond to see how decades of open borders have worked out for the people of western Europe, where the second generation of now native-born Muslims is reaching maturity. Random acts of terror are the new normal in Great Britain, Germany and France.
Here at home, we have a wealth of polling data that should restore sobriety to even the most ardent cheerleader for open borders. A recent Pew survey of U.S. Muslims found that only 81 percent agreed that suicide bombings and other violence against civilian targets are never justified to defend Islam from its enemies. That means nearly one in five Muslims in America is ripe for recruiting by Islamic State.
As a husband, father, grandfather and legislator, here are my policy prescriptions:
— We need a minimum five-year moratorium on all immigration into the United States.
— In Maine, we need to cut off all welfare payments to noncitizens. They should rely on their own resources or private charity.
— Any municipality, such as Portland, that declares itself a “safe zone” for illegal immigrants should lose all state funding for schools and social services.
Let the debate begin.
Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is serving his second term in the Maine House of Representatives, District 137. He is the ranking Republican on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.