In Congress, time will tell if the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will improve the prospect of achieving positive immigration reforms, since any bills will need the assent of the Senate, with its increased Republican majority. But in recent years the Senate has been more willing to advance immigration bills than the House, so perhaps 2019 will usher in new hope for a path to permanent residency for those with DACA, those on the brink of losing TPS, and the long term undocumented population who are integral parts of our communities and our economy.
Meanwhile, in Maine, a new governor coupled with Democratic majorities in both chambers should improve the prospects for enactment of bills to help us attract, retain, and integrate the immigrants the State needs for vibrant communities and a growing economy.
MeBIC expects to be working on bills to increase funding for adult education, so that waiting lists for English as a second language classes can be eliminated, and additional higher level, classes can be added in communities that lacked the funds to do so. Funding to locate classes at workplaces that combine job training and contextualized English instruction will also be a goal. Additionally, efforts to create alternatives to traditional credentialing and licensing pathways will be explored. Many highly educated and experienced immigrants may not have access to their education credentials (for example, if their university was destroyed in war, required official transcripts may be impossible to obtain), or experienced tradespeople may lack the high school education needed to apply for licensing to work in their profession or trade. With Maine’s shrinking labor force, Maine cannot afford the waste of talent that results when experienced immigrants cannot work in their chosen profession and area of expertise.
Contact MeBIC if you have ideas about legislation that you’d be particularly interested in that would help immigrants to participate to their fullest potential in Maine’s workforce. Expect to hear from us as we also reach out to you about your ideas and where you would like to engage.