Holding back people who are willing to work is holding back our state economy
On July 20, the Portland Press Herald published the following letter to the editor by Dana Connors. We are reprinting it here for your consideration.
“I appreciated the recent column by Luke’s Lobster co-founder Ben Conniff pressing for immigration reform to help alleviate Maine’s labor shortage, specifically when it comes to reducing the time it takes for asylum seekers to be authorized to work. Conniff is spot on that authorizing asylum seekers to work sooner is key to filling gaps in worker shortages that businesses across Maine have been experiencing for decades – and more acutely since the pandemic.
Holding back people who are willing, able and eager to contribute to our economy and our communities is holding back our state.
Maine’s demographics have long made growing our population and workforce a top priority. Immigrants’ and asylum seekers’ commitment to the promise and opportunities the U.S. holds is evident through their often arduous journeys to get here and the complexities of becoming established here. As Conniff wrote, “We need them as much as they need us.”
The Maine State Chamber strongly supports and appreciates the efforts members of our federal delegation and state leaders are taking to shorten the time it takes and make it easier for asylum seekers to get to work in our state.
Doing so will strengthen our economy, lift some of the burden on municipal and nonprofit resources, and increase diversity in Maine, altogether making Maine a more attractive place to live, work and do business.
Speeding up the process of allowing new Mainers to work is a no-brainer. As Conniff concluded in his op ed, “This should be an easy call.” I agree wholeheartedly.”