Immigration debate roils politics in ... Maine?
LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — In the whitest U.S. state, thousands of miles from the Mexican border, the debate over immigration is becoming a central issue in one of the nation’s most closely watched governor’s races.
With its close-knit communities and a practice of labeling non-natives as “from away,” Mainers have a reputation for being insular. But they have also embraced the need for immigrants as the state’s population ages and declines.
So Republican Gov. Paul LePage roiled the cultural waters when he criticized the federal government’s placement of eight immigrant children in Maine without advising him.
He said Monday that the federal government was ducking its responsibility by leaving the border unprotected and pushing the burden onto states. He said he worries about the financial impact if more children are placed in the state.
“If we have eight kids in the state right now and if there are any state dollars going there, there are eight Mainers not getting services,” he said during a visit to a homeless shelter in Lewiston. “There’s not an endless pot of money up there.”