In an April 21, 2018 editorial, the Bangor Daily News synthesized recently released 2016 Census data to reveal that while many Maine counties suffered year over year net losses in population, all Maine counties saw increases in their foreign-born population.
In some Maine counties, that foreign born influx blunted the population loss, while in others it kept the population numbers virtually steady, and in still others, was responsible for a county’s growth. The editorial noted that
(t)he numbers aren’t large. But they’re positive in every county, which points to a distinct reality: If Maine stands a chance of growing its population, that growth will depend on welcoming those from abroad to settle in Maine.
MeBIC agrees, and also agrees with the editorial’s stance that Maine should position itself to help immigrants integrate, for example, by ensuring access to Adult Education English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. LD 1492, which MeBIC supported but was one of many “unfinished business” bills in this year’s State Legislative session, would have provided more funding to add capacity to the Maine’s ESL programs.
That bill should be reintroduced in next year’s Legislature. Maine needs to invest not only in order to attract immigrants to strengthen our communities, but also to ensure that they can reach their full potential, benefiting the entire state.