We did it, friends. We rallied, we organized, and we defeated LD 366. Like other “anti-sanctuary city” bills around the country, LD 366 would have forced local law enforcement to act like federal immigration agents, and punish towns and cities that choose not to do so by withholding all state funds
It has been a long road with many twists, turns, dips and dives. But, it’s brought us here, to victory. Do you remember how this all began? Certainly, Maine has made attempts at demonstrating that it is a welcoming state for years now. But this particular story began for a lot of us in January, at the airports, immediately after President Trump introduced the first Muslim ban executive order. Here in Maine, when the travel bans were ordered, we rallied in Portland and Bangor by the thousands.
We listened to the members of our community who are immigrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees share their fears and their hopes. We listened to local leaders espouse values and make vows. We sang. We chanted. And in those moments, we pledged to take action.
Not too long after the airport protests, Representative Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst) introduced into the Maine House of Representatives LD366, “An Act to Ensure Compliance with Federal Immigration Law by State and Local Government Entities.”
Around this time, volunteers from across Maine participated in ACLU Nationwide’s Resistance Training. Locally, we organized Action Forums in Bangor, Portland, and Rockland. These were opportunities for volunteers to learn a little more about the ACLU, participate in legislative advocacy, and build community with like-minded neighbors.
Beyond the forums, the effort to #RejectLD366 took on a life of it’s own. We asked you to organize against this anti-immigrant bill and you came through. You contacted your legislators via email, you made phone calls and wrote letters to the editor. A group of artists organized to paint a banner against LD366 and stood in Monument Square in Portland to raise visibility for the campaign. In Yarmouth, folks held a sign-making party and brought them to the rally we organized on the day of the hearing.
And about that hearing! The turnout sprawled across three different committee rooms and into the halls of the State House. A staffer told us she’d never seen such interest in a committee hearing and that they stretched the rules that day in order to keep all the doors open so everyone present could hear the proceedings. Together, we sent a very clear message and people will be talking about that day for a long time.
Yet despite the turnout, and the fact that 117 out of the 129 people who submitted testimony on the bill were against it, the committee vote was split 7-6 “Ought Not to Pass.” This was uncomfortably close. We renewed our call to action, and again volunteers came through to contact their legislators.
Of course, the fight for immigrant’s rights isn’t over just because we defeated this bill. There are many fronts and we will remain vigilant. For example, along with ACLU affiliates around the country, the ACLU of Maine filed a lawsuit with the local office of Customs and Border Protection to learn just how the travel bans have been carried out on the ground. And at the national level, we’re readying ourselves to fight the Muslim ban all the way to the Supreme Court.
So, the fight is still on, but it’s always important to celebrate the victories as they come. Thanks for all you do to make these wins possible.