Six months ago, my husband and I returned to live in the United States after over 30 years of living and working in Europe. One of the reasons we decided to settle in Portland was that we sensed the welcoming nature of the populace and the interest in and tolerance of those who come with different cultural backgrounds and experiences.

This is not surprising – virtually all Americans are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, with only a generation or two of difference between us. When I immigrated to the United States as a child, over 50 years ago, I learned that America was a “melting pot” of peoples from around the world.

And it is clear that Maine needs more immigrants, not fewer. Wherever you go around this beautiful state you see signs of “help wanted” and “now hiring.” As a state with one of the oldest populations in the country, we need to attract more, younger people to live and work in Maine to keep the economy functioning and providing the services we all want.

For these reasons and more, it is important that our state Legislature soundly reject all anti-immigrant policies, starting with L.D. 366, which would require local law enforcement to act like federal immigration agents. Our local police have worked hard to gain the trust of these new Americans. This act would encourage racial profiling and make our immigrant residents fearful of the local police. Immigrants are not a problem – they are part of the solution to many other problems, and we need them in this country.

We should continue the great American tradition of being the melting pot of the world, welcoming all who will contribute to making this country a beacon of hope and opportunity, of equality and freedom.

Gretchen H. Stanton