January 20, 2011

Bill Nemitz: Answers by Maine Gov. LePage result in questions

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com
Columnist

First, a correction.

FOR MORE

Link to the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Services website.

See Maine's website introducing the new first family.

In my latest letter to Gov. Paul LePage, on Sunday, I referred to Devon Raymond as "a Jamaican lad you adopted in 2002 at the age of 17."

I was wrong. LePage may call Raymond "my adopted son," love him like an "adopted son" and pay his college tuition like an "adopted son," but it turns out Raymond, now 25, is not and never has been the governor's "adopted son."

So what is he?

Well, that depends on how you look at it.

By Jamaican standards, Raymond is one lucky young dude.

Since he arrived in Maine in 2002, he has graduated from Waterville High School, earned a bachelor's degree from Grambling State University in Louisiana, worked briefly as a golf pro in North Carolina and begun studying for a master's in business administration at the University of Louisiana in Monroe – all, we are told, on the LePage family's nickel.

By political standards, Raymond has become one heckuva flak deflector.

Almost in the same breath that LePage told the NAACP last week to "kiss my butt" after the organization expressed its disappointment that he declined repeated invitations to meet with members, the governor invoked "my son (who) happens to be black" to prove he's as racially tolerant as the next guy.

That well may be.

But this latest question mark over the LePage clan (see: wife's dual property tax exemptions; daughter's job in governor's office) is nothing if it isn't ironic.

Just two weeks ago, in his first full day as governor, LePage signed an executive order effectively ending a prohibition on state workers asking people across the counter about their immigration status.

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, dare we ask about the immigration status of the governor's not-really-adopted son?

"He's on a student visa," replied a noticeably terse Dan Demeritt, LePage's communications director, on Monday.

Got it. And what does that mean?

According to the State Department's Bureau of Consular Services website, it means a couple of things:

First, a student visa holder must "have a residence abroad, with no immediate intention of abandoning that residence."

Second, a student visa holder must "intend to depart from the United States upon completion of the course of study."

We now move to the state of Maine's website–  specifically, the page that introduces our new First Family. There, we find a photo of the governor, his wife, their biological son and daughter and, last but not least, Devon Raymond.

We also find this statement: "Governor Paul R. LePage and First Lady Ann LePage are honored to be the 74th First Family of the State of Maine. They have five adult children, Lindsay, Lisa, Lauren, Paul and Devon."

Lindsay and Lisa, the governor's children by a previous marriage, live in Canada.

But what about Raymond? Does he, as required by immigration law, still have a residence in Jamaica that he has "no immediate intention of abandoning?"

"Devon maintains regular contact with his Jamaican family where a residence is maintained," Demeritt replied in an e-mail.

(Now there's an interesting choice of words – essentially Demeritt is saying that Raymond's biological family isn't homeless.)

And what about that required intention "to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study?"

"Devon works closely with an immigration attorney and intends to comply with all the legal requirements of his student visa upon completion of his studies," wrote Demeritt, adding, "This concludes my cooperation on this matter."

(For the record, Demeritt also revealed that Raymond had a 12-month "optional practical training visa" while he worked as a golf pro between his undergraduate and graduate studies.)

(Continued on page 2)

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