The fact that Portland is a chosen destination for asylum seekers fleeing violence in their African home countries makes me proud to be a Portlander.

The fact that these men and women are given some small financial assistance while awaiting their work visas makes me proud to be an American.

But the fact that, in trying to gain popular support for taking away this assistance, Gov. Paul LePage, Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew and Maine Heritage Policy Center CEO Matt Gagnon seem to be playing upon some people’s ignorant fears to further a political agenda makes me embarrassed to be a Mainer.

Would these Republican preservers of “heritage” bother kicking up such a storm if these asylum seekers were from a European country (such as Ukraine)? I think not.

Joseph Menard

Portland