Maine Higher Ed and Business Leaders Join ABIC and MeBIC in Call for Inclusion of Immigration Reform within the Budget Reconciliation Package
Maine Independent Colleges Association releases letter to Maine Sens. Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I), urging them to renew their “ardent” support for DACA holders and Dreamers and help pass legislation
Portland, Maine — On Monday August 30, 2021, higher education leaders representing the Maine Independent Colleges Association (MICA), Adele Ngoy, an immigrant entrepreneur and owner of Antoine’s Formal Wear and Tailor Shop in Portland, and David Barber, Former President and CEO of Barber Foods issued an urgent call to Congress to immediately pass immigration reforms. Ms. Ngoy serves on the board of MeBIC, and Mr. Barber is a Co-Chair of ABIC and MeBIC Board President.
The legislative push is part of a seven-figure campaign being waged by ABIC, a bipartisan group, to win congressional enactment of common sense immigration solutions that boost the U.S. economy, create jobs, ease the labor shortage and support families. Congress is scheduled to consider a budget reconciliation bill in September that should include paths to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Workers (TPS), farmworkers, and essential workers.
With a stand-alone DREAM Act proposal stalled, the Senators were asked to support including the proposed citizenship programs in the reconciliation bill.
At the new conference, participating college presidents released a letter from the Maine Independent Colleges Association (MICA) to Maine Sens. Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I), urging them to renew their previous ardent support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) permit holders and Dreamers by ensuring citizenship for Dreamers is included in the budget reconciliation package. This has become more urgent than ever after a Texas federal court effectively ended the program.
“We sincerely hope you will continue to support those who contribute so much to our campuses, communities, and economy with renewed urgency given the recent federal court decision on DACA,” the MICA letter to the senators stated.
Participants at the news conference included James S. Dlugos, Ph.D., President of St. Joseph’s College of Maine, and President of MICA; James D. Herbert, Ph.D., President, University of New England, which is also a member of MICA, and who served on the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee; David Barber, former President and CEO of Barber Foods and an ABIC and MeBIC board member; Adele Masengo Ngoy, an entrepreneur and owner of Adele Masengo Designs and Antoine’s Formal Wear and Tailor Shop, and MeBIC Board member, who repurposed her wedding dress design business to make masks during the COVID-19 pandemic; and Beth Stickney, Esq., Executive Director of MeBIC, the Maine Business Immigration Coalition.
The speakers’ highlighted quotes follow:
James S. Dlugos, Ph.D., President, St. Joseph’s College of Maine
“Maine’s independent colleges recognize the immense contribution that our immigrant and international students, scholars, faculty and staff make on a daily basis to our campuses and to our communities. While Maine has relatively few current DACA holders, currently there are 1,500 immigrant youth in Maine who would become eligible for permanent residency through the DREAM Act and could begin building real futures here in Maine. Nationally, there are approximately 427,000 undocumented students currently enrolled in institutions of higher education, inlucing 181,000 DACA-eligible individuals. They need our support to contribute, to continue with their studies and to build toward productive futures. We urge Senators Collins and King as well as Maine’s entire congressional delegation to ensure that immigration solutions for Dreamers as well as TPS recipients, farm workers and other essential workers are included in the budget reconciliation package.”
James D. Herbert, Ph.D., President, University of New England; Member, Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee:
“It’s basically a matter of simple arithmetic. If we don’t bring in immigrants our population will decline. We could build a wall around New Hampshire to keep people – not to keep more people out, but to keep more people in– and we would continue to decline in population if we didn’t bring in immigrants. The only reason Maine hasn’t lost population given the demographic trends, is because of immigration. And we need not only immigrants coming in through our existing legal channels, but we need the Dreamers and the farmworkers and those who are here under Temporary Protected Status, asylum seekers. We need the folks who are already here to keep contributing to our economy… The University of New England is Maine’s largest provider of healthcare workforce in the state and, indeed, in the region, and these Dreamers are going to be our future doctors, nurses, dentists and other medical professionals… I urge our congressional federal delegation to strongly consider supporting in the reconciliation process the inclusion of these protections.”
David Barber, Former President and CEO, Barber Foods; Board Member, ABIC; Board President, MeBIC:
“My father believed in making sure new immigrants could have stable lives and integrate into our society. He paid workers fairly and provided good benefits including for retirement. We have an amazing and very trainable workforce looking for opportunities and a dramatic need to fill positions at many levels. We would have all preferred for immigration reform to be part of a bipartisan deal but since that wasn’t successful, this needs to be included in reconciliation…The economic benefits for all Americans are clear. Legalizing Dreamers, TPS recipients, farm-workers and essential workers is not only morally right; it’s vital to our economy… I encourage senators King and Collins, representatives Pingree and Golden to support these reforms in the budget reconciliation package.”
Adele Masengo Ngoy, Owner, entrepreneur, Adele Masengo Designs, and Antoine’s Formal Wear and Tailor Shop; Board member, MeBIC:
“I am originally from Congo. I’ve been in the U.S. for twenty-one years. I came here as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and when I arrived here, I didn’t know any words in English… Over years with patience, I went to school and learned English and after years of receiving all the support I got from the community, I wanted to give back to the community everything it had given to me… In my early age here in Maine, I focused on raising my kids and trying to do the best for them. My oldest daughter works in D.C. in international development and my two other kids are living in Los Angeles trying to build careers in the arts… I am working now to help young immigrants start their own businesses… I believe we will see an explosion in creativity and economic innovation in our children. I arrived here with a green card and it would be impossible to get where I am with no legal paperwork… I hope Maine’s Senators and Representatives do everything in their power to make sure immigration solutions are included in the reconciliation process.”
Beth Stickney, Esq. Executive Director, MeBIC
“For the nation and for Maine in particular, immigration reform is simply urgent. Maine, according to the Boston Fed, crossed the tipping point last year where we have more people over age 65 than under age 18… We can’t afford to lose the people who are already here. There’s been consistently bipartisan support for legalizing Dreamers who came to the U.S. as children and for farmworkers and essential workers and those who have Temporary Protected Status…If the Senate is not going to act on these reforms which have already been approved by the House of Representatives, inaction is not an option… Congress must act on these provisions quickly to bring stability to the lives of immigrants seeking legal status and to the businesses that employ them and are facing worker shortages.”
The American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) promotes common sense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and citizens. ABIC is active in key states and communities across the country engaging activists, advocates, business leaders and elected officials on the urgency of passing immigration reform that boosts our economy, creates jobs, eases the labor shortage and supports families.
The Maine Business Immigration Coalition (MeBIC), ABIC’s chapter organization, is Maine’s only resource dedicated to providing information, education, and advocacy on immigration and related issues for and from the business and economic perspective.