Maine immigrants and allies stand united against hate in Lewiston

Maine immigrants and allies stand united against hate in Lewiston

More than 250 Mainers gathered at the Franco Center in Lewiston on Saturday to show their support for immigrant families in the state and to advocate for sensible immigration policies. The event, part of a national day of action to prevent deportations and protect immigrants and refugees, comes as immigrants have been increasingly targeted for rhetorical abuse by right-wing politicians and for physical abuse in a rising tide of hate crimes across the country.

“Living in Maine hasn’t always easy,” said Bisharo Odowa, a junior at Lewiston High School whose family emigrated to Maine when she was eight months old. “Truth be told, it has been a struggle to be forced to face dehumanization, prejudice, and scrutiny – simply for existing.”

The rally featured a mix of policy speakers and poets, including municipal elected officials from Lewiston, Bangor and Portland.

“This is a time in our country’s history that we need each other more than ever, and we need to stick together to assure that none of us are alone, or need to be afraid,” said Jim Lysen, City Councilor for Lewiston’s Ward 1. “To that end, I will be presenting to the City Council a proposed resolution to create Lewiston as a ‘Welcoming Community’ to make sure immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers know that we stand together, in solidarity, against potential deportations, criminalization and hate.”

Speakers also called for preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) which currently protects three quarters of a million young immigrants and provides stability for their families, and for other policy changes at the state and local levels to protect immigrants and refugees.

“I pledge as a city councilor from the largest city of Maine to stand up in solidarity with immigrants and refugees against mass deportation and being subject of hatred and xenophobia,” said Portland City Councilor Pious Ali. “We are all connected to one another and need to stand up for one another.”

Photo via Jeff Kirlin.

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