“Open your mouth for the mute, for rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy,” says the Holy Bible (Proverbs 31:8-9).

I am asking Gov. Paul LePage and his followers to stop distorting the truth by saying “Asylum seekers are illegal immigrants!” Asylum seekers are not illegal immigrants.

Asylum seeking is a legal protection process for a person who is in search of protection, a person who fled due to an overwhelming fear of persecution, and a person who legally applied for protection and is waiting for the determination of his/her status by the federal government and Homeland Security.

Withholding of General Assistance to asylum seekers is a violation against human rights. I will agree with you that funding for asylum seekers is an economic burden for our state. However, their cases are heart-rending. It is important to find other solutions to resolve our economic burden.

I also want to remind you that many asylum seekers who got accepted are good for our state’s economy. They are working in many jobs, paying their taxes and increasing human resources.

We should remember Maine’s wonderful history of supporting and protecting vulnerable immigrants.

Ultimately, I urgently call those who have sympathy in their hearts to stand and fight for the rights of the needy and poor. “Cursed be anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner …” (Deuteronomy 27:19). Let’s carry each other’s burden to eliminate the stumbling blocks to our progress.

Andu Franchesco