I write this in response to Earl Harnden’s letter to the editor of Jan. 30 (“Who gave immigrants the right to a free ride here?”).

He states that he has worked hard all his life and no one has ever given him anything. Yet most of us living in this country have been given the security that we will be generally safe in our person and property.

We have not had to leave our homes, jobs or lose educational credentials. We have not been uprooted from our extended family and friends. We have had the convenience of needing to learn only one language.

The refugee family I knew had to flee Burundi during the ethnic violence there. They are learning their third language. Their native language was Kirundi, and they learned Swahili while waiting in a refugee camp. Now they are learning English.

It is commendable that Mr. Harnden values self-responsibility. I think self-responsibility is attainable when people are given hope and an environment in which to learn and grow.

As I understand it, the proposed rule change would limit General Assistance to those refugees who had lived in the state at least five years. This rule change would cause homelessness and is neither moral nor in Maine’s best interest.

For a state that worries about losing its young people, the LePage administration seems not to care about losing the refugee families that are trying to put down new roots in our state.

There is a cost to helping refugees, but we might consider it as paying an old debt. Unless we have Native American ancestry, our families immigrated to this country and received the opportunity for a new life. Now it’s our turn to give others a chance.

Holly Travers

Westbrook