ICYMI/UPDATED: Is LePage’s “Outrage” A Politicized Continuation of Ongoing General Assistance/ Immigrant Battle?
Late today Maine Governor Paul LePage issued the following press release, regarding “swirling rumors” of “a large number of Unaccompanied Alien Children”. As such, the July write up is being revised and brought up to the top, as within are links that should assuage the Administration’s concerns.
The “rumors” are addressed in a Lewiston Sun Journal story published earlier Wednesday (“Poland selectmen hear of plan to house immigrant children at former Elan School”). That story was later updated (“Government officials deny plan to house immigrant children in Poland”).
- Theresa Allocca of Poland has told the town that she is working with federal officials and with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ office to bring the children to Poland, where they will be housed and educated at a private school funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
At Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting in Poland, Town Manager Bradley Plante read a statement announcing that federal officials plan to house 120 immigrant children at the former school, and that the project was being coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
After seeing the Sun Journal report, Kevin Kelley, communications director for Collins, said, “We’re not working with (Allocca) to make this happen,” nor is FEMA.
“There is no orphanage and the federal government is not sending illegal immigrant children to it,” Kelley said.
And, spokespeople for the Maine Emergency Management Agency and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services also denied that such a proposal is under consideration by their agencies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also denied any plan to place immigrant children in Poland.
It should be noted that, at NO time in the past 3 1/2 years, has Paul LePage nor Mary Mayhew ever spoken a word regarding the immunization statuses of Maine children, let alone in regards to non-immunized children posing a greater health risk to our state’s citizens.
- Statement of Governor LePage on Unaccompanied Alien Children
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage released today the following statement with regard to Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) who may be placed in Poland, Maine:
- “Rumors have been swirling about whether a large number of Unaccompanied Alien Children may be placed at the former Elan School campus in Poland, Maine. Despite efforts by our administration, these rumors have not been substantiated by the federal government. As recently as last week, Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, sent an inquiry to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seeking information on whether such plans are in the works. So far, we have not received a response or further information from the federal government. The Administration remains opposed to the placement of these children within Maine.”
“While we are very concerned for the health and safety of the children, we hope the federal government provides funding and an appropriate home for them if this plan is real and comes to fruition. However, since we have no idea who would pay these costs or if there is any health risk to Maine people, we cannot support them coming to Maine. The state has received no formalized plans or information about this alleged plan. As a result, the administration has no assurance from the federal government of the health status of the children or whether they have had proper immunizations, nor have we had any assurance that the federal government would pay for their health care, education, general welfare or safety.”
(Originally posted 23 July 2014)
UPDATE #2: PPH reporting that the eight children, staying with local families came to Maine between January and June of this year. DHHS spokesman John Martins: “No one but Office of Refugee Resettlement at the federal level knows who these children are, where there are, or how placement was arranged.”
UPDATE: Some statistical information on the children coming across the border via Mother Jones:
- Little kids, including a troubling number of children age five or younger, make up the fastest-growing group of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the US border in fiscal year 2014. So far this year, nearly 7,500 kids under 13 have been caught without a legal guardian—and 785 of them were younger than six.
It’s still mostly teens who travel solo to the United States from countries like El Salvador and Honduras, as the Pew Research Center revealed today in a new analysis of US Customs and Border Protection data. But compared to 2013, Border Patrol apprehensions of kids 12 or younger already have increased 117 percent, while those of teens have jumped only 12 percent. Apprehensions of the youngest group of kids, those under six, have nearly tripled.
One would think it was an election year… oh right.
Yesterday during a conference call with the White House, Maine Governor Paul LePage was informed that eight undocumented children, as part of the federal government’s Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program, had recently been placed in the state without his knowledge:
- “I only learned that children have been placed in Maine after I asked the question. No one from the federal government had informed me or the Governor’s Office that Unaccompanied Alien Children were coming to Maine. The White House officials did not provide any further information, and questions by other governors about how to handle Unaccompanied Alien Children went unanswered.”
“Our nation was founded by immigrants who came to this country in search of a better life. Our nation and our state still welcomes legal immigrants who want to work hard and help Maine prosper. However, we cannot afford to spend our limited resources on those who come here illegally.”
“Maine people are generous. Many of us who can afford to give a little do so through our churches or charities to help the less fortunate. Our state government is here to help those who need a temporary hand up or our most vulnerable residents, such as the elderly and disabled who cannot care for themselves. But it is wrong for the federal government to force a higher burden on the people of Maine to pay for those who come to our country illegally, especially when the government secretly places illegal aliens in our state without our knowledge.”
Bangor Daily News provides more information for context:
- The process that likely put the children in Maine predates LePage’s tenure in office as well as President Barack Obama’s: Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has taken custody and care of “unaccompanied alien children.” The department makes efforts to release the child to a relative in the United States while he or she is processed by immigration officials — a process that can take up to two years.
So Paul LePage is either very wrong or so deliberately misleading on this point to score cheap points with his base that it would be comical, if it weren’t so blatant as to his intent. Because make no mistake about it, he is engaging in both remarkable hypocrisy on a variety of levels and politicizing these children by combining them with his ongoing attacks on General Assistance (GA), which is already forcing Maine communities to either take his side or that of Attorney General Janet Mills.
Weigh the evidence.
1. The federal government isn’t “forc(ing) a higher burden on the people of Maine to pay” at all- $868 million was appropriated for the programs for FY14. And the “churches and charities” that LePage referenced in his press release yesterday are among those working with HHS to provide foster care for these children.
- “Illegal aliens who choose to live in Maine are not our most vulnerable citizens. We need to take care of Mainers first.
During my first few days in office in 2011, I issued an Executive Order to repeal Maine’s status as a sanctuary state. In 2004 Democratic leadership banned state officials from asking people about their legal status when they requested benefits. My order rescinded that policy.
Also in 2011, the State eliminated state welfare benefits for illegal immigrants.
Last week, we took the next step. We told Maine towns and cities they will no longer get state funding to give to illegal aliens.
Federal law prohibits states from providing General Assistance to illegal immigrants. This law was enacted in 1996, when President Clinton and the Republican Congress approved sweeping welfare reforms.”
But we have had a few Presidents since 1996 and one of them, George W. Bush, not only signed a critically important bill into law (2000) but also the reauthorization of same (2008), as mentioned in the BDN. More via Think Progress:
- Under a 2002 human trafficking law signed by former President George Bush and reauthorized again in 2008 with additional protections, Mexican unaccompanied children apprehended crossing the border are automatically returned without formal deportation proceedings because the two countries share a border. But unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala cannot be sent back without going through the deportation process, since that law ensured that America wouldn’t send kids back to a dangerous situation. (Honduras, for example, has experiences increased gang violence in 40 percent of its territory, while violence against females is surging in Guatemala.)
Authorities must instead process these children and determine whether they have credible proof that they cannot return to their countries of origin. Central American children are given basic care like medical screenings in processing centers before being placed with relatives or foster care until they can appear in front of immigration judges.
3. Here’s where the politicizing of not just the plight of these eight children, but the wider discussion of general assistance for all undocumented people in Maine gets personal from Paul LePage, on a multi-generational level.
- The oldest son of eighteen children in an impoverished, dysfunctional family, Governor LePage left home at the age of eleven to escape domestic violence and lived on the streets of Lewiston for two years, making a meager living shining shoes. At age thirteen, two families jointly “adopted” Governor LePage. Eddy and Pauline Collins kept him busy washing dishes at the Theriault’s Cafe. Bruce and Joan Myrick kept him busy hauling boxes. Bruce was a Pepsi-Cola truck driver. Later the Governor worked at the Antoine Rubber Company and at a meat packing company.
While attending Husson, he supported himself as a short order cook and bartender, while making time to be the editor of the college newspaper. Getting into Husson presented a challenge in itself. Governor LePage was brought up speaking French. With the help of U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe’s first husband, Peter, he was able to take an admissions exam in French to demonstrate his strong comprehension abilities and earn admittance.
- “His father, a 24-year-old mill worker, was the son of immigrants from Saint Jean de Dieu, a small Quebec farming village 70 miles north of Madawaska, who then lived in a modest three-bedroom cape on a small grassy lot at 759 Lisbon Street. A Quebec genealogist recently revealed Gerard to have been one of the fifth-great-grandsons of Rene LePage de Saint Claire, first lord of Rimouski, Quebec, but his branch of the family had inherited neither wealth nor privilege. Gerard’s father, a printer, had emigrated to Lewiston in 1919, married a local girl, and raised nine children. Gov. LePage has said his father had only a third grade education.”
Joseph LePage was in Lewiston and listed a resident of that city, per his 1917 World War registration card. He was not, as the card shows, an American citizen but rather listed as “Alien”. His service record via Ancestry.com reads:
- Name: Joseph Lepage
Serial Number: 388757
Birth Place: St. Jean, Quebec, Canada
Birth Date: 09 Jul 1887
Comment: Ind: Lewiston, Androscoggin Co., LB No. 1, May 31/18. Pvt; Pvt 1st cl Apr. 12/19. Org: Btry B 7 Bn to July 13/18; Btry 16 FA to disch. Eng: Meuse Argonne. Overseas: Sept. 1/18 to July 29/19. Hon disch on demob: Aug. 6, 1919.
After he concluded his overseas service in the military, Joseph petitioned for naturalization with some of his fellow soldiers as witnesses and on August 5, 1919, was finally granted status as an American citizen.
So Paul LePage’s own grandfather was able to come into America, work here, enlist to be a soldier, serve in that capacity even though he was not legally an American, and only became a citizen after the conclusion of his service and with the assistance of his fellow soldiers.Got it.
But here’s where Paul LePage’s false outrage over unaccompanied children entering Maine gets really ugly, because not only was his life possibly saved due to the kindness of others, but he and his own family themselves helped and supported arguably an “Unaccompanied Alien Child” years ago- an act of generosity that should be a model for others to look up to and emulate.
In January 2011, Governor LePage refused to attend multiple traditional Martin Luther King Day events, telling reporters to tell NAACP to “kiss his butt”(VIDEO):
- LePage: “They (NAACP) are a special interest. End of story. And I’m not going to be held hostage by special interests. And if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they’d like about it.”
Reporter: “And what is your response to them saying that this is more just this one instance but rather a pattern?”
LePage: “Tell `em to kiss my butt. (giggles) Ahh, I got Dan all upset. You know, this is not about – you know, if they want me to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them.“
But there’s the thing- he wasn’t, and isn’t, the LePages’ son, but rather what Governor LePage would call an “Unaccompanied Alien Child”.
Was then Governor Angus King informed of the boy’s arrival in Waterville?
Unlike Paul LePage and the eight children, there was no immediate danger whatsoever present (“Jamaican joined LePage household as a teen”)
- Devon Raymond Jr. came to live with Gov. Paul LePage’s family in August 2002 with nothing but a suitcase, some golfing gear, ill-fitting shoes and a Bible, according to the governor’s office. The LePages met Raymond in Jamaica through his father, who caddied for Paul LePage during an island vacation, according to Demeritt. Raymond is not a U.S. citizen, nor has he yet been formally adopted by the LePages.
Raymond moved to Waterville and graduated in 2003 from Waterville High School, where he played on the school’s golf team. He attended Husson University — LePage’s alma mater — for a year and a half, playing golf and studying sports management.
In his biography on the social networking site Twitter, Raymond describes himself as “chasing the dreams of being a PGA pro.” “My dreams are my motivation,” he wrote. In 2005, he wrote on a Jamaican social networking site that he had moved to the United States to “finish high school and get a college education” and also pursue a golf career.
LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt even went on-air and was questioned by WGAN’s Ken Altshuler over the governor’s claim that he has an adopted black son:
- “Why add layers of lies and deceit to a very simple story?” Altshuler asked of the governor’s comments.
“First of all, I reject your characterization that Devon is not the son of Paul LePage,” Demeritt said.
“He’s not his adopted son!” said Altshuler, who is a lawyer.
“He’s absolutely his son,” Demeritt said. “Paul LePage and Ann LePage have made Devon a part of their family.” While the adoption paperwork has never been filed, Demeritt said LePage is like a father to Devon Raymond Jr.
So we ask: Who is Paul LePage to question not just long established federal immigration law and specific procedures actively being implemented, but the immediate safety concerns for these eight children in need?