Much attention lately has been given to the Maine State Legislature, which is currently in the midst of their 2023 session. Committee meetings, public hearings, and work sessions are taking place regularly, both in Augusta and on Zoom. A number of proposed bills could impact Maine’s immigrant communities on issues ranging from rental assistance to healthcare access.
In addition to the state, another key part of the U.S. government structure is the federal government. As the Maine State Legislature works in Maine, the U.S. Congress works in Washington, D.C. Composed of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Congress is responsible for federal legislation, which includes immigration.
Maine’s Congressional Delegation has four members: our senators are Susan Collins and Angus King, and our representatives are Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden. They have offices throughout the state, and they work for the people of Maine. We encourage you to reach out to your congressional offices and make your voice heard.
The new Congress began in January, and prospects are dim for significant reform. With the House controlled by Republicans, the Senate controlled by Democrats, and an ever-fewer number of moderate centrists in between, few people are optimistic that big legislation will pass in the next two years.
That said, MIRC remains hopeful for some victories at the federal level that will have a positive impact on the immigrant community. Recently, three members of Maine’s congressional delegation have introduced their versions of the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act.
Other federal issues we are monitoring in D.C. include: rights for Dreamers / DACA recipients, expanding protection for refugees and asylum seekers, the Afghan Adjustment Act, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, and others.