THE IMMIGRANT OPPORTUNITY
About this series
Given that Maine is racing into an economic crisis because it doesn’t have enough workers for its jobs, Pine Tree Watch decided to examine the role immigrants could have in helping to solve Maine’s serious workforce needs.
We moved away from the heated rhetoric that focuses on people who are in this country illegally and examined how immigrants who are cleared to work could help fill Maine’s employment gap.
To do this, we conducted more than 40 interviews and collected a lot of clarifying data. To navigate the labyrinth of immigration law, we talked with policy experts and public officials. We turned to Maine economists to help put the employment crisis in perspective. We spent time with immigrants and business owners discussing myriad barriers to employment. And we spoke to legislators about how the state could better support the entry of immigrants into the workforce.
Help Wanted: The Immigrant Opportunity is the culmination of that work.
Stories by Peter Weed
Photography by Gabe Souza
Design and production by Jessica Ouellette
Advocates say increasing support for immigrants so they can be more involved in Maine’s workforce is critical to the state’s health, but opponents worry about associated costs, added bureaucracy and favoring outsiders.
Maine’s got plenty of immigrants who want jobs and an abundance of jobs to fill. Seems easy enough to put the two together, right? Only it’s not.
‘Give them a chance’ is a resounding theme for those who want more immigrant involvement in Maine’s workforce
Pine Tree Watch interviewed Eileen Eagan, associate professor emerita of history at the University of Southern Maine, about the experience of Irish and French-Canadian immigrants in Maine during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Hiring immigrants has been a great experience for one Westbrook employer who says it’s just taken some accommodation and patience – from both sides