Greg Kesich’s Feb. 3 column, which criticized former Gov. Paul LePage’s comments in national media about Portland’s struggle with people enjoying the benefits of America’s generous laws for asylum seekers and refugees, highlights the romanticism with which many people view immigration.

Mr. Kesich posits that immigrants who don’t speak English and have a lot of children will generate economic growth. Like in Bangladesh, the Central African Republic or Guatemala, perhaps? He laments the tight housing market and strain on public services, but does not make the connection between an influx of migrants and the demand for shelter and welfare.

As governor, LePage, whatever his faults, was clear about the responsibility of government primarily to the economic, social and environmental welfare of Maine citizens. And he carefully managed the state’s resources to that end. He was skeptical of the effects of settling people who, as Mr. Kesich acknowledges, need “housing assistance, food pantries and English classes” just to eke out a living.

The former governor is wise to advocate the reduction in the influx of poor migrants who must struggle to make ends meet and assimilate. The only rejoinder to his wisdom seems to be a dreamy naivete that immigration is an unalloyed good, and however much we have, more is better, and our problems are unrelated to 75 percent of Portland’s population growth being from immigration.


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