We need to change people’s perceptions of these new Mainers from that of tax burdens to one of needed new citizens.

Here is a reality we now face in Maine. Demographically, the white population of Maine is shrinking, making us the oldest state in the country. Our families are much smaller and many young people are leaving the state for better jobs. But when I looked at the people arriving at the Expo, I saw young families who truly want to be here and start new lives. We need these people and, frankly, we need many more of them if this state is to prosper.

This may sound outrageous, but I urge that businesses invest in providing housing for them. They would also do well to invest in language and training for any new arrivals who agree to work for them. Back in the 19th and 20th centuries, when businessmen of the Northeast built factories, they also built housing for their workers nearby and people migrated to them by the thousands; from Ireland, Italy, Quebec and many other countries.

What I am saying is that, the future of our state may well depend on these new families arriving from Africa and Central America who want to settle here and live.

What we have here is not just an opportunity to show our kindness to desperate people who have come a long way to be free and safe. This is an opportunity to build up our entire workforce in Maine.. They may not look like us or sound like us at first. But in time, they will be us and, like thousands of new arrivals before them, raise their families in this great state.

The Rev. Jim King

Cape Elizabeth

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