I’m writing to support three bills currently before the state Legislature: L.D. 718, a bill that would restore affordable health care to immigrants; L.D. 1684, a bill that would expand English language and workforce training programs for immigrants, and L.D. 1329, a bill that would establish career advancement and navigation initiatives.

I’m a co-founder of Luke’s Lobster. We’re a vertically integrated seafood company and Certified B Corporation that buys directly from fishermen, runs our own production facility, operates a group of restaurants and employs close to 250 Mainers.

Maine’s seafood and agriculture industries rely to a huge extent on immigrants. Without immigrant workers in our food production businesses, the market for many of Maine’s seafood and farmed products would collapse.

Immigrants in food production stepped up and risked their health during COVID-19 while many others stayed home. Their contribution ensured that food was available to all, and that Maine’s critical fishing and farming industries stayed afloat. After these heroic contributions, it would be morally unjust to pass up this opportunity to restore their access to affordable health care and provide career advancement resources.

It would also be a terrible business decision. We’re facing an unprecedented employee shortage throughout the food industry. We need to do everything we possibly can to be welcoming, safe and equitable to immigrants considering a move to Maine. These three bills will help Maine stand out as a state that prioritizes equity and wellness for its workers, which will keep our businesses staffed and our products moving from land and sea to market.

Ben Conniff

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