Maine Chamber blazes trail for importing Third World to Pine Tree State

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Corporate WATCH

By Joe Schaeffer

Maine’s largest city, Portland, has been staggered by the influx of African refugees into its communities in recent years. A January 2019 Wall Street Journal article detailed the high toll the latest wave has taken on a town that has long been praised for welcoming Third World immigration.

“Asylum seekers, who are primarily from African countries, now make up 90% of the people living in Portland’s city-run family shelter and overflow shelter, where new arrivals sleep on mats,” the Journal reported. “A city fund that assists with necessities is dwindling fast, and pro-bono lawyers are overwhelmed with cases,” David MacLean, administrator of Portland’s Social Services Division, told the paper.

Portland, Maine. / Wikimedia Commons

But as the city and its taxpaying citizens struggle to cope with the invasion, local business leaders are ebullient. “Maine needs immigrants to avert an economic crisis,” reads the headline to a Dec. 12 op-ed in The Bangor Daily News written by Beth Stickney, executive director of the Maine Business Immigration Coalition. “Congress — and the Senate in particular — must act to make sure that more than 700,000 ‘Dreamers’ with DACA status are able to stay in the U.S. permanently,” Stickney opined in the piece. “If they are not, they, and the nation’s and Maine’s communities, businesses and economy, will be unnecessarily and avoidably harmed.”

Who is Beth Stickney? Her official bio on the Maine Business Immigration Coalition (MeBIC) website states that Stickney “has specialized in Immigration and Nationality law and related policy since 1986, and formerly was the founding executive director of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Maine’s only statewide nonprofit immigration law provider.

“Through ILAP, Beth met employers all over Maine who increasingly rely on immigrant employees, in high tech, farm work, and every sector in between.”

MeBIC is a “community partner” of ILAP, as is the ACLU and several other leftist organizations. Some would be surprised to see prominent state businesses associated with such seemingly odd comrades, but MeBIC proudly states on its website that it “was incorporated in 2017 with the support of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.”

Its mission statement certainly follows the progressive tune on immigration, albeit with a corporate spin. “Maine Business Immigration Coalition (MeBIC) recognizes the value of immigration and promotes initiatives, laws, and policies to attract, integrate, and retain immigrants in Maine’s economy and communities as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs and citizens,” the statement reads.

Under the heading “Principles,” the group created under the auspices of the state Chamber of Commerce does little to hide its affinity for importing the Third World to Maine:

“We believe in:

• Providing mechanisms that facilitate the hiring of foreign-born workers in response to market demands while also fully protecting the wages and working conditions of U.S. and immigrant workers, as outlined in joint principles issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and organized labor.
• Establishing a path to citizenship for the undocumented currently living in Maine and the United States, to leverage their talent and to facilitate their complete integration as community members, consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs.
• Promoting stability within Maine’s immigrant communities and families and thus our workforce and our immigrant consumer base.”

If there is one thing the Maine State Chamber of Commerce apparently does not like, it is any attempt to stem this tide of immigration into The Pine Tree State. In an arrogant posting on its website tilted “All of Us Must Combat Anti-Immigrant Hate,” MeBIC scolds Americans who dare to call for a secure southern border.

“Unfortunately, many political leaders in the U.S. both at the federal and state levels are trying to drum up anti-immigrant sentiment to score political points through lies,” the post reads. “Refugees are not terrorists (any more than all white males in the U.S. are murderous anti-Semites because one man murdered eleven Jews). Mexicans are not all drug dealers and rapists. Mothers and children and young people fleeing gang violence in Central American are not all MS-13 gang members. There is no ‘invasion’ at the Southern Border in comparison to other years that justifies separating or detaining families, or closing our border to asylum seekers.”

In November MeBIC rejoiced that a federal judge had blocked a move by the Trump administration to require that immigration visa applicants prove they can afford to pay for their health care. “As we’ve explained previously, the proclamation has the potential to slash immigration by more than 60%, and will particularly target immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents seeking to immigrate,” a MeBIC post reads. “Most of Maine’s immigrants come through family, so the proclamation would adversely impact the state if allowed to take effect.”

Ah yes, MeBIC is most concerned about chain migration. Beyond the crocodile tears for “oppressed” aliens lies the sobering fact that chain migration is a crucial mechanism for businesses that thrive off of cheap foreign labor, enabling them to constantly replenish their employee pool. David Barber is President of MeBIC’s Board of Directors. Barber Foods is a chicken meatpacking company that has thrived in Maine for decades. It is now owned by multinational behemoth Tyson Foods. Barber currently serves as a senior consultant to Barber Foods. A 2003 article (see page 20 of pdf) in the Journal of Refugee Studies laid out how chain migration can be used to help Barber Foods secure cheap foreign labor at its meatpacking plant.

“For instance, Peter Bickford (Human Resource Manager, Barber Foods), in an interview with the authors, states that Barber Foods strongly encourages people to get relatives to work with them,” the article explained. “Bickford states that this arrangement works for the company because people only get friends and relatives they can be proud of, thus eliminating the uncertainty surrounding new hires. Grieco (1987) finds that employers may consciously recruit within families to intensify kin linkages. These linkages allow employers to exercise greater social control over their workforce.”

MeBIC boasts that “[f]rom 2011-2016, immigrants were responsible for 75% of the population growth in Portland, South Portland and Westbrook.” Though undoubtedly beneficial to its corporate backers, left unstated is the damage being done to Maine as a whole.

It is a problem that has festered now for some two decades. The Federation for American Immigration Reform has spotlighted the burden imposed on the town of Lewiston by a tide of Somali refugees. “In the fall of 2002, Lewiston Mayor Larry Raymond drafted an open letter to Somali leaders, pleading with them to help stop the influx of immigrants to the small town,” FAIR notes. “‘The large number of new arrivals cannot continue without negative results for all. The Somali community must exercise some discipline and reduce the stress on our limited finances and generosity,’ [the mayor] wrote.

“Only with your help will we be successful in the future — please pass the word: We have been overwhelmed and have responded valiantly. Now we need breathing room. Our city is maxed out financially, physically, and emotionally.”

That was 18 years ago. But David Barber and his friends at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce still need more cheap labor. And so the invasion continues. Tyson Foods, which now owns Barber Foods, is also home to several other popular food brands. Among them are Hillshire Farm meat products, Jimmy Dean sausages, Original Philly Cheesesteak Company and Sara Lee meats. A mental footnote when grocery shopping.

Joe Schaeffer is the former Managing Editor of The Washington Times National Weekly Edition. His columns appear at, and

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