The proposed termination of General Assistance by Gov. LePage to refugees and asylum seekers caused lots of comments calling him mean-spirited, unfair, immoral. Gov. LePage might have the diplomacy skills of “a bull in a china shop,” but being a realist, he’s right in this case.

Maine is very generous to the refugees, and as an immigrant myself I know how important it is to have help in the new country. However, there is only so much money for the generosity to other people while people living here for generations don’t have the same kind of help.

Maine is not a rich state. Maine lost most of the industries that provided income for people, and many people became poor.

Most of the population in the United States are immigrants, but anyone who compares the immigration process at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century with today’s process and suggests that LePage should visit Ellis Island is the one who should read about immigration at that time, because they are the ones who show their ignorance of history.

They will find out that there was no general assistance for the new arrivals, no help with subsidized housing, no Medicaid, no free interpreters, no schools to learn English. The people who came at that time made it on their own and with the help of relatives and other people, not government.

They lived and worked in most deplorable conditions, they were exploited and discriminated against, but still they were willing to work at any job. They were the people who built this country.


Yes, it is great that the USA became a rich and generous country, and we should help the less fortunate, but we must be realistic about how much we can give other people without denying help for our own people.

Olga Meleshkova



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