Poliquin: Refugees will only be settled where ‘they’re welcome’

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin went on “The Howie Carr Show” on Monday to talk about the Syrian refugee situation and criticize President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

The Republican from Maine’s 2nd District has voted against continuing President Barack Obama’s plan of resettling 10,000 refugees from Syria, which is in the midst of a civil war complicated by the rise of the terrorist Islamic State.

Pressure on Obama’s plan has ramped up after the terrorist attacks in Paris claimed by the Islamic State earlier this month. While, none of the attackers have been identified as refugees so far, but one of them had a passport (which may well have been fake) in the name of a man who entered Greece with refugees.

Poliquin and many Republicans argue that until the Obama administration can ensure a stiffer screening process, the Syrian immigration program should be halted. However, others have said the screening process, which can take up to two years, is a high hurdle.

Democrat Emily Cain, who is running for her party’s nomination to challenge Poliquin in 2016, was noncommittal on the administration’s plan in a statement last week. Her primary opponent, Joe Baldacci, hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

On Monday, Carr, a conservative talk radio host, asked Poliquin if he feared “a Paris-style event in Lewiston or Portland, given the large number of refugees in those two cities. (Some necessary context: Just over 900 refugees came to Maine, mostly from Iraq and Somalia, between 2011 and 2014.)

Poliquin mostly demurred on the question, saying Maine is “strong on the 2nd Amendment” and “we own a lot of guns up here, so we’re good to go.”

The federal government controls immigration, but Gov. Paul LePage has joined a majority of U.S. governors who have come out against Syrian refugees settling in Maine.

Poliquin said many “stand up strong” to support Gov. Paul LePage and a majority of U.S. governors opposing resettlement in their states “until we can certify they’re not going to hurt us.”

Governors’ opposition is symbolic because the federal government controls immigration, but Poliquin said “based on what I know, refugees from any place will not be resettled in that place or in any place in America unless they’re welcome.”

“Now, I’m not advocating any action, I’m just saying, these folks have to be welcomed in the communities or they’re likely not to be resettled there,” he said. — Michael Shepherd


College students targeted in effort to move Lewiston elections to June

An unsuccessful mayoral candidate and two others are looking to move Lewiston’s November elections to June, the Sun Journal reported yesterday.

Opponents of the proposal quickly criticized it as a way to exclude Bates College students from participating in Lewiston’s electoral process.

The move to change the date for municipal elections in Maine’s second largest city is being led by Luke Jensen, who finished fourth in this year’s mayoral race, which will be decided in a Dec. 8 runoff between Mayor Robert Macdonald and Ben Chin.

Jensen said it “would be wrong to say that Bates students voting was not a motivating factor in this petition” and that they voted disproportionately related to the rest of the city and could have swung the mayoral race. Chin, a liberal Bates graduate, got support from many students.

I was in Lewiston on Election Day, and this divide between students and older residents was palpable at the city armory, the polling place for many Bates students, lying just off-campus.

While I was there, some voters emerged from the polling place complaining about the high volume of students, and a student said that while she waited to cast a ballot, she was told she shouldn’t be voting in Lewiston because she’s from out of state. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craiglist

  • In Bangor, someone is seeking a dumpster-diving partner. He has a small pickup truck, he “wouldn’t hesitate about slicing into a bag to see inside not afraid of coodies lol” and he’s “not a drinker or a stoner,” but rather, he’s “high on life and drug free.”
  • Someone’s trying to start a “media empire” in Bangor, but they don’t know there’s only one BDN.
  • Someone is posting a series of poems about apples on the “Missed Connections” page. They don’t make sense, with lines like, “Apples offer only brief relief from the human mind” and “Why can’t a person tickle them self? It’s just a touch. I can curl up in my own tail, but I don’t feel it. It’s just my own tail.”
  • However, someone’s offering what seems to be real apples in Portland for free.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Those free apples are just in time for Thanksgiving pies. Apple pie is clearly the best pie and my family will be having it tomorrow, but a Slate writer makes a strong argument why it doesn’t belong at your Thanksgiving table. We’re all about counterpoints here.

But no matter what kind of pie you’re eating (and I guess if you’re not even eating pie at all), Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. The Daily Brief will pick back up on Friday. — Michael Shepherd 

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.