Former President Trump’s recent derogatory remarks on immigrants, including the alarming statement, “They are poisoning the blood of our country,” have sent shockwaves through Maine’s immigrant community. The looming prospect of Trump’s return, coupled with his policy proposals like advocating for the “largest deportation operation in history,” has instilled fear as the 2024 election approaches. Recent polls show Trump as a frontrunner, with some swing states favoring him over President Joe Biden. Adding to the concern, several of Trump’s Republican presidential primary opponents, including Ron DeSantis, publicly endorse his immigration agenda.

Maine’s significant immigrant population, including several hundred asylum seekers, can make us a target if Trump is reelected. As we face a challenging year, it’s crucial to be proactive and to take action to safeguard our communities here in Maine.

Abdi Nor Iftin is a Somali-American writer, radio journalist and public speaker. He lives in Yarmouth and can be contacted at

Trump’s policies are expected to target asylum seekers and immigrants who are in the process of reuniting with family members through various visas. His potential opposition to Biden’s immigration policies, including initiatives like the Welcome Corps, poses a significant threat. The Welcome Corps allows naturalized American citizens to sponsor family members, and initiatives like the visa lottery provide legal avenues for overseas refugees to move to the U.S. To counter these potential challenges, it’s essential for Maine’s immigrant community to raise awareness and engage in proactive measures.

Unlike the last two elections, there is a lack of awareness campaigns in our state and an absence of preparation in our diverse communities to combat a potential second term for Trump. During the 2020 election, Maine’s diverse communities united in awareness sessions, language translation efforts and interviews with local news outlets to spread the word. Now, however, despite even harsher rhetoric from the former president, there is little preparation and certainly lack of discussion in the media and on social media than during Trump’s first election and the election of 2020.

Our naturalized citizens often struggle with voting-related information. Many are unaware of voter registration procedures, absentee ballot options so they don’t have to miss work, and their respective deadlines, potentially hindering their ability to cast votes. We can start by providing this information. We can also take the crucial step of helping permanent residents in our state become naturalized citizens so they can have every right an American should have, including the right to vote.

By January 2023 there were 12.7 million lawful permanent residents in the U.S., many of whom qualify to become naturalized Americans, according to government reports. The naturalization process, with its complexities and associated higher filing fees of $640, remains a significant barrier. It is incumbent upon individuals who have undergone this process to guide others in their community, ensuring they understand where to begin, and are aware of fee waivers, making naturalization more accessible. Recently, I sat down with a new Mainer who has been in the state for more than 10 years with a permanent residence. She qualified to be naturalized citizen five years ago. There are so many like her from Lewiston to Portland that should be able to vote in 2024 if we help.

I longed to participate in the democratic process in 2016, when Trump was elected, but I was not yet a naturalized U.S. citizen. By the 2020 presidential election, I had obtained citizenship and I never felt more empowered in this country than the day I cast my vote. I could proudly say my vote counted toward getting Trump out of office.

As the year ends, we must take proactive steps both to alleviate fears within the minority community and to prevent Trump from taking the presidential office again.

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