Somali Muslim Migrants Protest Welfare Reform in Maine


by Daniel Greenfield


Maine’s Somali Muslim settler problem is growing worse with gang violence and welfare abuse threatening the state. Governor LePage’s efforts to make Maine’s generous benefits system less attractive to Somali Muslim migrants who have swarmed the state seeking taxpayer handouts has led to protests from those same Somali Muslims.

Immigration advocates and migrants to Maine rallied at the State House Friday against a proposal that would prohibit hundreds of asylum seekers and some other immigrants from receiving General Assistance while waiting for their work permits.

Advocates estimate that as many as 1,000 immigrants who are seeking asylum in Maine would lose access to General Assistance.

In fiscal year 2012, Maine communities provided a total of $17.5 million in General Assistance, $13.2 million of which came from the state budget, according to the DHHS. Portland provided $9.6 million in General Assistance to 4,376 individuals and families in the last fiscal year, with 90 percent of that money spent on food and shelter, according to the city.

Of the total spent, $2.4 million came from property taxpayers and $7.2 million came from the state.

Opponents of the rule change were bused from Portland and Lewiston, cities with significant immigrant populations, for a hearing Friday before DHHS officials in Augusta.

Opponents said the bill would cut off a lifeline for many people who arrive in Maine and apply for asylum.

“This proposed rule will result in increased homelessness and hunger for immigrant women and their children,” said Fatuma Hussein, the director of the Somali Women of Maine.

“It’s a moral and human act to provide assistance and meet the vital needs of this population,” said Hussein. “The face of Maine is changing and so are our communities.”

“There would be hundreds of people unable to pay their rent,” said Merrill. “A lot of general assistance goes in the form of vouchers to landlords. People would be on the streets.”

The rule change is being proposed by Gov. Paul LePage’s administration, which has made welfare reform a priority in his three years as governor. Welfare reform has also emerged as major theme of LePage’s re-election campaign.

I’m sure the rent will be a lot more affordable back home in Somalia. There’s no reason why working people in Maine should be forced to subsidize the transformation of their state into another Somalia.

Anyone acquainted with Somali pirates already knows how those generous folks treat visitors.

The pro-welfare pushback is predictably centered around accusations of racism and talk of all the incredible economic benefits that subsidizing welfare for thousands of Somalis from a violent backward Muslim country in the throes of a perpetual civil war will bring.