Recently, Matthew Albence, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, wrote a column denouncing Portland residents who have spoken out against the department he temporarily oversees.

Albence says he was “appalled and perplexed” to see protests outside a new Portland ICE office. Having worked with those who seek asylum in our country, I was “appalled and perplexed” to see him refer to the people who grow and harvest our food, clean our hotels and cook in our favorite restaurants as “criminals who roam our streets with impunity.”

He claims this department keeps us safe. Yet numerous data show immigrants are the least likely group to commit violent crimes. He gave examples of exceptions and made them sound like the norm. That is dangerous. It shows  the “acting” head of a United States agency not being honest and using his comments to help lay the groundwork of instilling fear and thus the approval of the subhuman treatment of a group of people.

Do not be fooled by this talk. The immigrants and migrants in our state are fleeing starvation, war and genocide, torture, and/or to provide a better life for their family, just like our ancestors. They are hard working and good people who want to contribute to our state.

Maine is a welcoming place. We are known for this. Let’s not allow a substitute head of an agency attempt to  change who we are.

Mary Dunn


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