…..the town benefits culturally and economically, BUT we need more federal money!
From the Morning Sentinel:
WASHINGTON – Lewiston’s experience with an influx of Somali immigrants shows the economic energy they can bring, but also the need for the federal government to do more to help the new residents settle into their new life, says Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert.
Gilbert testified Tuesday at a Senate hearing on immigration reform, a session that mostly focused on the system for attracting and retaining high-skill foreign workers in fields such as computer sciences and engineering.
But Gilbert was one of three mayors from around the country invited to address the broader topic of the economic impact of legal immigrants on local communities.
“Fixing a broken immigration system is not just about highly skilled immigrants,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration, refugees and border security. “An immigrant comes here wanting to make a better life for his family” and in the process helps pump vitality into the U.S. economy.
About 5,000 immigrants, primarily from Somalia but also from Sudan and Djibouti, have moved since 2001 to the Lewiston-Auburn area and they are “bringing new life and energy” with them, Gilbert told the committee. Lewiston’s population in the 2010 census was 36,592, an increase of 2.5 percent since 2000, according to the U.S. Census website.
In downtown Lewiston, formerly vacant storefronts are occupied by immigrant-owned businesses, from restaurants to clothing stores to tax preparation companies. Many downtown apartments in large buildings that used to be occupied by Franco-American mill workers are now home to Somali and other immigrant families, Gilbert said. [I have to laugh over the ‘tax preparation companies’—they are learning how to get money they never put into our tax system through the Earned Income Tax Credit—ed]
“Our immigrant population is having a positive impact on the social fabric of our community and our local economy,” Gilbert said.
Which is it Mr. Mayor? If the large African Muslim population is helping the local economy, then why do you need more federal taxpayers’ money?
But more support, some of it from the federal government, is needed to help the immigrants living in Lewiston in areas such as workforce training and learning English, Gilbert said.
The “inadequate federal funding associated with a refugee resettlement program simply does not meet the many needs of our refugee residents,” Gilbert said.
Readers, we have written dozens of posts on Lewiston, ME and its problems. Use our search function for ‘Lewiston’ to learn more. You might first wish to visit this post about Maine as the welfare magnet.