On March 22, 2021, Senator Susan Collins met with several signatories of the Maine Compact on Immigration and leaders from the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) to discuss immigration reform.
The group asked Senator Collins to lead efforts in the Senate to make sure that urgently needed immigration reforms are enacted in 2021.
Senator Collins heard the group’s hope that she will work for swift passage of the Dream Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, whose House versions were both approved in the House of Representatives the previous week. These two bills would open a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants and those with DACA who came to the U.S. as children, and for undocumented immigrant farmworkers, respectively, giving over 4 million individuals who are already part of our communities and economy stability, and the ability to reach their full potential.
The group also stressed the critical need for other reforms so that international students, employment-based immigrants, particularly in STEM fields, foreign temporary workers in hospitality and other seasonal sectors, immediate family immigrants, and asylum seekers will have improved paths, processes, and eliminated backlogs, benefitting employers, families, and Maine (and the nation) as a whole.
Senator Collins noted her support for Dreamers/DACA holders, and her previous work with a bipartisan group of twenty senators (including Senator Angus King) to craft a permanent solution for these immigrants in 2018 after the Trump administration moved to rescind the DACA program. That proposal failed after the Trump administration indicated its opposition to the bill, though it nonetheless gained 54 votes from Senators on both sides of the aisle.
Senator Collins also stated that the situation on the southern border would make passage of any immigration reform bills in the Senate extremely challenging.
Those at the meeting were:
- David Barber, Tyson (Barber Foods), Specialist, Business Development, and President of the Maine Business Immigration Coaliation (MeBIC)
- Nora Venegas, Tyson, Director, Government Relations Global
- Greg Dugal, Hospitality Maine, Director of Government Relations
- Betsy Biemann, CEO, Coastal Enterprises, Inc
- Deborah Bronk, PhD, President & CEO, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
- Clayton Spencer, President, Bates College
- James Herbert, PhD, President, University of New England
- John Rowe, Chair Emeritus of Exelon Corporation and Board Member, American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC)
- Rebecca Shi, Executive Director, ABIC
- Beth Stickney, Executive Director, MeBIC (a state chapter of ABIC)
The attendees stressed that Maine can’t wait for Congress to reform the nation’s outdated immigration system, which fails those seeking to work or live in the U.S. and the U.S. economy alike, and their hope that Senator Collins will see them as a resource as immigration bills move through Congress this year.