I am writing in response to state Rep. Larry Lockman’s recent Portland appearance. He has sponsored a bill (L.D. 366) that would drastically expand the policing of immigrants in Maine, turning not only all state and local police but also public officials into federal immigration agents. As far as I can tell, it even allows police to arrest documented immigrants who are not carrying proof of their immigration status during a stop.

It is vitally important to encourage trust between immigrants and police. It is the job of police to protect all of us in our community, regardless of immigration status. Likewise, immigrants often cooperate with police as they investigate and prosecute crimes. Passing this bill will discourage that cooperation, which will make it harder for police to do their jobs and will make our communities less safe.

In 2012 there were fewer than 5,000 undocumented immigrants in Maine, yet in 2015 there were nearly 40,000 people living in poverty in Washington, Hancock and Penobscot counties alone.

I cite those counties because Rep. Lockman’s district lies within them. He sits on the Committee for Economic Development, yet so far this legislative session he has not written any anti-poverty or economic development bills.

Rep. Lockman wants us to think that fewer than 5,000 undocumented immigrants present an immense threat to our public safety, yet Maine has some of the lowest violent crime rates in our country.

Meanwhile, almost 40,000 people alone in and around his district live in poverty, and he cannot use his taxpayer-funded time to write even one single bill to help them. Instead, he is wasting our time and taxpayer money writing bad legislation, giving presentations that divide us, leaving those in poverty to fend for themselves and seeking undeserved publicity.

Sean Douglas