I applaud Gov. LePage’s decision to release some nonviolent offenders early. His stated objective is to increase the workforce, given Maine’s growing need for workers. This move is also likely to save taxpayer dollars by not having to feed and house some prisoners who are not likely to re-offend.

So, why is Gov. LePage so against welcoming refugees to Maine? When I worked at Catholic Charities Maine back in the 1990s, I had a good deal of contact with the refugees who were arriving at that time. They were so grateful to be in a safe place and were eager to settle in and find work so they could support their families and, often, help those who had not yet made it to the U.S. or some other safe port.

I understand that immigrants are more likely than us native-born folks to start their own businesses. If small business is an important engine for employment (and it is), we should welcome such people.

Like Gov. LePage, I have Franco roots (my family name was spelled Chretien in the 1700s). My immigrant ancestors come from not only French Canada, but also Ireland, England, Norway and Sweden. Most of us here in Maine hail from immigrant ancestors. Let us not forget that.

The small trickle that may come from our prisons to help fill our worker needs will not be enough. We need to bring more people into Maine. Refugees want to come here. We should welcome them.

Paul C. Christian


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