What Trump’s immigration executive order could mean for Maine

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight we’re going to keep trying to explain everything that’s been going on with Trump, LePage, refugees and immigration.

What we’re talking about

How Maine immigrants are dealing with Trump’s planned executive order — Jake Bleiberg and Troy Bennett spoke with a woman who fears that Trump’s executive order that would tighten U.S. borders could strand her father in a dangerous place.

A former child soldier and member of a non-Muslim tribe, Peter Machar worked as an advocate in Sudanese and South Sudanese communities in the U.S. He returned to South Sudan in 2015 to try to continue his work there, his daughter said.

After being caught up in the country’s civil war, Machar ended up in a refugee camp without any documents to prove his citizenship, according to Nyamuon Nguany-Machar. And with ethnic violence ongoing and the region unstable, she is concerned that he may be turned away as a refugee or barred along with Sudanese nationals. …

According to Portland City Councilor Pious Ali, Nguany-Machar is not alone in her worries. A Muslim immigrant from Ghana, Ali said that following the news of Trump’s draft order Wednesday he’d heard from other members of Portland’s immigrant communities who were afraid of being cut off from loved ones abroad.

“These are law-abiding citizens who live here and pay tax and don’t know what is going to happen to their family members,” said Ali.

Meanwhile, the Press Herald’s Megan Doyle reports: Legal advocates for immigrants in Maine called Trump’s proposed actions unprecedented and alarming.

“It’s confirming our worst fears, actually,” said Anna Welch, head of the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Maine School of Law.

“We’ve got people who have already been identified for resettlement, people who are flying in today, tomorrow, the next day,” Welch said. “What’s going to happen when they get to the airport? Are they going to be turned away? Are they going back, and what are they going back to?”

In other news, a rally in support of Maine Muslims is planned for 4 p.m. tomorrow. About 400 people planned to attend as of late afternoon. Here are the details.

‘Tracking Trump’s Agenda, Step By Step’ — If the fast and furious pace of Trump’s first week has your head spinning, here’s a handy visual from the New York Times that shows his proposals so far — and what it would take for each to be enacted.

Today’s development Reuters scoops: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has temporarily halted trips by staff to interview refugees abroad as it prepares for a likely shakeup of refugee policy by President Donald Trump, two sources with knowledge of the decision said on Thursday.

The decision effectively amounts to a pause in future refugee admissions, given that the interviews are a crucial step in an often years-long process. …

It means that though Trump has not yet ordered a temporary halt to the refugee program, future admissions are likely to be delayed.

Meanwhile, back in Maine — LePage’s promise to end the state’s involvement in refugee resettlement appeared to be moving forward. Rosie Hughes writes:

Documents reviewed by the BDN show that the state plans to end its part in the resettlement of refugees, who have fled war or persecution, on March 4. The full responsibility for resettling refugees and overseeing the federal money that comes into the state to pay for refugee services is expected to shift to Catholic Charities Maine, the nonprofit organization that currently works directly with newly arrived refugees.

The March 4 end of the state’s role in refugee resettlement follows a November letter from LePage to former President Barack Obama indicating that Maine planned to end its participation in resettlement. The withdrawal does not mean refugees will stop coming to Maine, only that the state will play no part in overseeing their resettlement.

National groups join legal battle to lift South Portland tar sands ban — Darren Fishell reports:

National oil and business groups are worried a South Portland ban on loading crude oil onto ships will prompt other local governments to make rules that effectively block importation of oil harvested from abundant shale deposits in Canada.

The controversial ordinance has caught the ire of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and various oil industry groups that this month filed briefs in support of a federal lawsuit seeking to strike down the city’s Clear Skies Ordinance as a violation of the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws.

Rep. Chellie Pingree gives Trump advice in front of Portland’s Berlin Wall — Rep. Chellie Pingree stated her opposition to President Trump’s southern border wall plan in a video posted to her Facebook page yesterday. Speaking in front of a chunk of the Berlin Wall that has been on the city’s waterfront since the 1990s, she said: “I just want to remind him, presidents have gotten way more recognition for taking down a wall than building one.” Presumably, she was referring to President Ronald Reagan’s famous line in front of the Berlin Wall, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” — Troy R. Bennett

LePage navigates ornery Biddeford crowd in return to town hall tour — Ace political reporter Christopher Cousins attended the governor’s first town hall event of 2017. He characterized the audience as “one of the more ornery crowds he has faced on the tour.”

Christopher writes:

As the 90-minute event progressed, some members of the audience grew bolder about shouting questions and challenging LePage’s statements while others urged them to be more respectful. The governor, for his part, remained calm and even answered a question about energy policy from one man who yelled repeatedly, “We are Mainers. Gov. LePage, please resign!”

Tweet of the day

Important advice from one of my favorite Twitter accounts, here’s your reminder:

Screenshot 2017-01-26 16.37.21

The Big Idea

The symbolic clock portending our doom moves closer to midnight — From The Washington Post:

It’s now 2 ½ minutes to “midnight,” according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which warned Thursday that the end of humanity may be near.



Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.