MeBIC Board President Mark St. Germain, Principal and Senior Scientist at St. Germain Collins, and Board Member Cathy Lee, Managing Partner of Lee International, speak out against efforts to cut immigrant eligibility for safety net General Assistance (G.A.) benefits from Maine’s state budget in this opinion piece published in the Bangor Daily News.
Under current law, only those who are legally here can get G.A. and only for a maximum period of 24 months.
G.A. is vital for asylum seekers in Maine who, despite being legally here, under federal rules cannot get their work permits until their asylum applications have been in process for 180 days. They have no legal way to work to support themselves during this period. Asylum seekers typically get jobs right after receiving their work permits, and they quickly repay the investment that Maine has made in them through the taxes they pay once they are working.
With Maine’s rapidly shrinking workforce, we need every last person who moves to Maine, whether from across the country, or around the globe, to stay and work in Maine. G.A. helps asylum seekers do that.
As the op-ed points out, G.A. for asylum seekers is a short-term investment, with long-term economic benefits for Maine.