Maine’s asylum seekers have found themselves in the center of a controversy about welfare reform.

Asylum seekers are not illegal immigrants. They are legally in the U.S. and usually come from horrific circumstances involving rape, beatings and murder.

They are in a no man’s land – they cannot go back to their home countries and cannot work here to support themselves while they wait for work permits.

Temporary help to asylum seekers represents a miniscule fraction of the state budget. The wish of some to vilify them and withhold temporary life-saving subsistence aid from them is the result of a mean-spiritedness that has made its way into our politics.

How someone can go to church on Sunday and then support this politics of selfishness is mind-boggling. Pastors and priests across Maine should be preaching kindness and not be silent or feeding into the hateful rhetoric of “illegal immigrants are taking our hard-earned money.”

I am not all that religious, but I do know what Jesus taught: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Susan Hall