October 15, 2012

Another View: City governments should resolve to welcome immigrants

The embarrassing statements of Lewiston's mayor provide a teachable moment for all.


Kudos to Bill Nemitz for his insightful assessment in the Press Herald of Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald's "blame Portland" penchant ("Mayor should reconsider 'where trouble always starts,"' Oct. 5).

The next step for the much-needed Nemitz depiction of Mayor Macdonald's anti-Portland media and City Council statements is a closer look at how his words reflect historic immigrant cultural hostilities.

What Macdonald said is of national and international significance. Just look at the CBS News national and BBC international coverage on Lewiston's decade-long integration of its growing African community.

Why else was Mayor Macdonald featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Huffington Post?

The misfortune is that Macdonald's remarks come when flat-growth Maine needs more -- not less -- domestic and foreign immigration.

Regardless, the global significance surrounding Lewiston can still become a teachable moment for all Maine residents.

The Maine Global Institute that Nemitz mentions was founded to encourage stepped-up civic and business discourse in public roundtables, celebrations and educational outreach. It is a Maine step needed to welcome newcomers from other states and countries.

Common ground can be found with a diminishing Maine middle class also negatively affected by local, state and federal decreased public services. Government and business can work in partnership to find expanded ways to develop a changing work force for economic growth.

A good place to begin is to have a public-private sector celebration of and support for government resolutions welcoming the needed Maine demographic change that we already see in our schools.

What better place to begin than with City Council resolutions in Lewiston and Portland?

Ralph Carmona of Portland is the executive director of the Maine Global Insitute.


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