On Sunday, I attended a meeting sponsored by the Maine Immigrants Rights Coalition for new Mainers. This meeting was specifically for members of the Iraqi community in Portland, a growing group of new Americans in our state. 

Often times when I hear negative stereotypes about Maine's immigrant population, I feel discouraged. I want to live in a community where we welcome newcomers and help everyone feel as though they have a positive contribution to our state. 

I sat in the room and ate delicious food from a new business in town and listened to the stories, some being interpreted from Arabic into English. Over and over again, I heard about skilled workers with advanced degrees who just wanted a job. To the people in the room, being able to work to support your family boiled down to having dignity.

While many of these individuals and couples required some assistance to buy food, access health care and gain housing, they'd much rather be able to have their degrees and years of experience recognized here in Maine so they can join our workforce. 

Many questions went unanswered at the meeting, but hearing the concerns is the first place 

The ACLU of Maine participates in these meetings to discuss issues of racial profiling. Thankfully, no one in the room had an experience of racial profiling. I was thankful of our work with the Portland Police department last year to reduce and prevent profiling. Hopefully, there will be fewer and fewer reports as our collaboration continues.