The lunch and activity day recently organized by the Cape Elizabeth Police Department for refugee families staying with the St. Alban’s parishioner community encapsulates the warm and welcoming embrace we owe these families, while underscoring the need for their full economic and social integration.

Despite the valiant efforts of a whole array of service organizations and government agencies to ease their way, asylum seekers face a monumental obstacle in finding self-sufficiency in their new community: the wait for a work permit. Currently, asylum seekers must wait 150 days to apply for a work permit, and then wait at least 180 days after that to receive one.

As a volunteer in one of the local organizations that provides support to these new Mainers, I have witnessed the strain and indignity experienced by individuals who find themselves in a work-permit limbo that feels interminable. Given Maine’s shortage of workers, the talent pool this community represents and the dignity and belonging that paid work confers, we should all support state Sen. Eric Brakey and House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross in their efforts to seek a federal waiver of this waiting period.

Nancy DellaMattera
Cape Elizabeth

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