AUGUSTA – Largely ignored by Maine’s media outlets, Bruce Poliquin is drawing attention to information provided by Maine’s Chief Border Protection Official, Jason Owens, who says the migrants currently being cared for as asylum seekers in Portland crossed the southern border of the United States illegally. Poliquin says the current system is unfair to Maine’s senior citizens, homeless veterans and disadvantaged children, who could get “shoved to the back of the line for assistance.”
In an interview on the Howie Carr Show, a radio program out of Massachusetts that is broadcast widely across Maine, Chief Owens said that the migrants in Portland crossed the border with Mexico illegally and only requested asylum after they were detained by border patrol agents.
The proper process of seeking asylum is for an asylum seeker to
present themselves to a port of entry with the United States, which provides
immigration officials the opportunity to conduct interviews and complete
appropriate paperwork for the asylum claim. Many liberal immigration advocates,
however, advise individuals to seek asylum after crossing the border illegally,
however, to avoid the scrutiny of interviews and other vetting that happens at
United States ports of entry.
According to recent data provided to the U.S. Senate Judiciary
Committee by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleneenan, 90% of
asylum seekers skip their court hearings.
On the Howie Carr Show, Chief Owens said that the migrants arrived
with anywhere from $600 to $2,500 in cash on their persons, and that most had
flown commercially to South America.
Owens said the migrants traveled to Portland because word of mouth
has spread that Portland provides taxpayer funded welfare benefits.
“The concern for us is where does
it stop?” asked Chief Owens. “If word of mouth is traveling and people are
being encouraged to do this, then the danger for the migrants, the danger for
the border patrol agents, and the danger for the country being exploited by the
Bruce Poliquin, in a Facebook statement, said, “This border security and immigration crisis can harm disadvantaged Maine citizens. It’s unfair for our seniors living on skimpy Social Security checks, homeless Veterans, and Maine children with disabilities to be shoved to the back of the line for assistance.”
The issue of the massive influx of migrants from Congo and Angola arriving in Portland overwhelmed Maine’s news cycle and social services staff in Portland.
After Portland Mayor Ethan
Strimling made public calls for more illegal immigrants to be sent to Portland,
saying both “bring them on” and “welcome home” in public statements that
received broad media coverage, a new influx of migrants arrived in Portland
While Strimling has been publicly
pushing for more individuals to be sent to Portland, the city has struggled to
pay for those benefits, with the local welfare fund being massively overspent
to the point where private donations are being sought to attempt to close the
Because Portland’s homeless
shelters and overflow shelters are already full, the city has converted the
Portland Expo into a makeshift shelter, lining the floor of the basketball
court with cots.
The Maine CDC has had to deploy the Maine Medical Reserves Corps to perform health screenings and provide vaccinations to migrants at the Portland Expo.
In the Maine Legislature, Democrats
in the Maine House are pushing for a bill that would allow Maine DHHS officials
to take money from other programs within DHHS that serve Maine people, and
redirect those funds to a welfare program for the migrants in Portland and any
others that arrive.
That bill, which is still alive in the Maine Legislature, passed the Maine House in a party line vote with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposing.
As the Maine Examiner previously reported, Governor Janet Mills had also been working with Portland officials on an “administrative change” that would have potentially allowed her to bypass the Legislature to provide funding for welfare benefits for non-citizens in the city of Portland.
Poliquin, for his part, says when
he was in Congress he worked to fix the problems that are creating this crisis,
but that Democrats now are refusing to work in a bipartisan manner toward
“Last year, while serving in the
U.S. House, I helped craft and then voted for two bills which would have helped
fix the problem. Democrats in Congress refuse to work with President Trump to
solve this humanitarian, public health, and national security emergency,” said
Poliquin’s Facebook post on the issue has been shared more than 8,500 times.