ILAP leads important advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal levels to improve laws and policies that affect all immigrants in Maine and prevent the passage of those that would have a negative impact. In this work, we partner closely with the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, ACLU of Maine, Maine Equal Justice, University of Maine School of Law and other organizations and groups across the state.
We also serve as a source of accurate information for the media and the public, and work with elected officials and other decision makers to understand the implications of different immigration-related laws and policies.
Our advocacy efforts have been instrumental to achieving many policy changes in Maine, including:
Passage of a state law to fix the age gap between Maine and federal law regarding the age of someone applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). SIJS is a pathway to permanent status for vulnerable abused, neglected, or abandoned noncitizen children in the United States. While the federal immigration laws provide SIJS protection for children under age 21, there was formerly no way for a child between 18 and 20 in Maine to get the special state court order needed to apply for SIJS.
Restoration and defense of safety net benefits for more of Maine’s immigrants, including General Assistance for people seeking asylum and other supports for elderly or disabled individuals. Asylum seekers cannot legally work until six months after applying for asylum, a complex application and process which can itself take up to a year to complete after arriving in this country.
Support for the establishment of the the crimes of criminal forced labor and aggravated criminal forced labor. Its addition lowers the hurdles faced by immigrant survivors of labor trafficking in finding safety and remaining in Maine. Previously, ILAP also led the passage of a state statute to address human trafficking by creating criminal penalties for traffickers and civil remedies for trafficking victims including immigrants.
Revision of the policies and procedures of various state agencies to ensure Maine’s immigrants are not subjected to racial profiling and unnecessary questions about immigration status, or erroneously denied driver’s licenses and other benefits. For example, ILAP led the passage of a Portland ordinance preventing City employees from asking about immigration status unless otherwise required by State or Federal law. We also improved access to justice in Maine’s courts through work with the Maine Judicial Branch to provide appropriate supports for individuals with limited English language skills.
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