Our immigration system is not a welfare program


Milton Friedman, the Nobel-prize winning economist, once said, “It is just obvious you can’t have open borders and a welfare state.”

And yet, many in Washington believe they can ignore the fundamental laws of economics, inviting the whole world to America and signing them up for welfare when they arrive.

Let me be clear: this is bankrupting us. We simply cannot afford it.

Of course, we must never forget our heritage: America is a land of immigrants. When French and Irish immigrants arrived here in Maine, they came seeking opportunities to work, contribute and live the American dream. There were not taxpayer-financed welfare programs for non-citizens like we have today and the hard work of the French and Irish immigrants not only benefited themselves and their families, but the entire state of Maine.

Since that time, however, the welfare state has grown. Today, you can arrive in Maine and be signed up for welfare benefits on day one. There have even been many documented cases of individuals here illegally receiving taxpayer-financed benefits in Portland.

This is not how our system should be functioning. We are a very generous nation, but our immigration system is not a welfare program.

That is why, one of the very first bills I sponsored in the Maine Senate and as Chairman for the Health and Human Services Committee, sought to end welfare benefits for non-citizens not covered under federal welfare programs. Working with then Lewiston Mayor Bob MacDonald, who had experienced first-hand the tremendous costs of this policy, I led the fight in the legislature to defund welfare for non-citizens.

Here in Maine, we are one of only a small handful of states in the country to provide welfare benefits to those immigrants not covered by the federal government. This has made Maine a magnet, not only for those pursuing work opportunities, but also those pursuing welfare benefits. That’s not the kind of immigration that benefits Maine.

Furthermore, the Constitution is clear on where the authority to determine our nation’s immigration policy resides: Congress. That is why, last year, I was an original co-sponsor on Rep. Lawrence Lockman’s bill to outlaw sanctuary cities in Maine. And that is why I am co-sponsoring similar legislation again this year.

While the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution clearly leaves many policy making powers to the states and the people, Article I, Section 8 establishes immigration policy as a power of Congress. Municipalities simply do not have the constitutional authority to override Congress on these matters, and neither does the office of the President.

When President Obama bypassed Congress and passed DACA by executive order, this was an illegal and unconstitutional act. An unconstitutional executive order has no legal standing, and President Trump was absolutely right to rescind this order.

If there are to be any provisions made for individuals in the DACA program, that is up to Congress. President Trump has put a very generous compromise on the table, which creates a legal pathway for DACA individuals in exchange for real border security and immigration reform.

Unfortunately, it seems that Sens. Chuck Schumer and Angus King don’t want to come to the table and seek a real compromise. Its their way or nothing.

As the next US Senator for Maine, I will continue to fight for common sense immigration policy. We cannot afford open borders and a welfare state. Its time for real welfare reform. And its time to secure our borders.


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