Posted by Julie L'Heureux

Rusty Atwood introduced our guest speaker, Beth Stickney, the director of the Maine Business Immigration Coalition (MeBIC). Her topic was to present information about the challenges with American immigration policies and how dealing with the subject affects Maine’s economy. She is the co-author of the leading legal treatise on how immigration laws impact families, check the link to Immigration Law and the Family at:

In her presentation, Beth explained how Maine has four centuries of immigration history. America has enjoyed a national level of exceptionalism, the condition of being different, because of the influence of immigrants. Beth has been involved in immigration law for 34 years, but what is being seen today regarding this subject is extraordinary. Civil rights groups and faith organizations have been dedicated to helping the public to understand immigration issues. In the past, the business groups have not been there. Today, we need to care about immigration from an economic perspective.

Maine is the oldest state in the nation, but others are close with their aging populations. As baby boomers retire and birth rates are declining, the ability to attract people from other states has become less successful. It's important to keep people in Maine who are already here and that includes immigrants. Programs to help immigrants with their orientation to living and progressing in Maine are needed to help keep Maine’s workforce from leaving the state. Currently, the political leadership in Washington DC is making it increasingly challenging to attract immigrants to the US and this will have an impact on Maine. Advocacy for the economic benefits tied to integrating immigrants to Maine businesses can receive formal support in the legislature (LD 647), “An Act to Attract, Educate and Retain New State Residents to Strengthen the Workforce.” 

Currently, challenges to attract and retain immigrants to the US and to Maine are negatively impacted because of administration policies. Among them is the reduction in the number of refugees authorized to enter the country. As less refugees are approved for immigration, this has the impact of reducing the number coming into Maine. A rigorous vetting of refugees is required before they can immigrate to the US. The travel ban has reduced the number of Somali and Syrians who can enter the US. There are long waiting lists for immigration applications to bring (a) parents (b) children under 21 years old, and (c) siblings of nationalized immigrants into the US. Visa denials, including those requested by native-born immigrants, have seen a 400 percent increase. International student visas have dropped by 22 percent and there is a 6.66 percent drop in enrollments. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are on the verge of losing their protection.

The world is watching what is happening on the US southern border. 

Immigration matters in Maine because the state’s population is not growing. Data supports how immigrants’ workforce qualifications increase to be equal with residents within 10-15 years of immigration.

MeBIC is Maine’s only resource dedicated to providing information, education and advocacy on immigration and related issues from and for the business and economic perspective. MeBic believes in and advocates for the economic value immigrants bring to helping the growth of American prosperity. For additional information, go to:







(Photo L-R: Rusty Atwood, Beth Stickney and President John Curran.)