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By the Time I Get to ArizonaMaine

January 7, 2011

LET’S EVALUATE what was for all intents and purposes the very first act of Maine’s new governor: cracking down on illegal immigration, by executive order, stating “…it is the intent of this Administration to promote rather than hinder the enforcement of federal immigration law…” [via]

The Associated Press reports, in the Bangor Daily News:

LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt said the governor wanted to send a message to those who have heard it’s easy for illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses and social services in Maine.

LePage, asked why he issued the order, said, “We have got many fiscal issues, and I’m intending to take care of Mainers first.”

The order also requires state employees and officials to cooperate with federal officials “on all matters pertinent to immigration.” [AP]

Does one take the governor at his word that this is to do with the state’s “many fiscal issues”? And what is the impact of undocumented residents on state finances really? And do these costs outweigh the cost of policing the situation more stridently?

This executive order, by emphasizing as a priority the exclusion of resident aliens from using state services by compelling state officials to aid in the enforcement of federal laws, will ultimately result in an expansion of the official use of coercive power. This is precisely the kind of power expanding task elements of hierarchical organizations seize upon in the interests of ambition and/or self-preservation.

As Darian Worden recently wrote in an article about Border Patrol sweeps on trains and buses traveling near, but not crossing, (so a case where Border Patrol is expanding their traditional role,) the US-Canada border in Buffalo, NY:

Social control is of course big business. Not only is there an entire offshoot of the military-industrial complex based on domestic control, but the individuals who administer government programs certainly profit when they expand their own power. The Rochester Border Patrol unit has grown tremendously as a result of its papers-please arrests on trains and buses. [Worden]

In Maine we have a case of what appears to me to be an expansion of state powers and obligations that will come at a considerable cost, presented as a solution to a problem that may or may not truly be a problem, and may or may not be costing the state as much as the solution will.

One wonders if this is just the ploy of a new governor being provocative to grab some headlines and make a name for himself, a shoutout to his base, an earnest albeit heedless attempt at cost cutting, or even worse?

[Sundry conspiracy theories, the other issue embedded in this executive order, and a music video under the cut.]

Is it in fact an attempt to increase police authority, of Governing Through Crime? A move toward mass incarceration in service of one of the governor’s campaign contributors, corporate prison operator Corrections Corporation of America which looks to change Maine law so that they may operate profitably in the state?

Does the bit about cooperating with federal officials mean Maine officials and police will now be required to help, say, the FBI in their carrying on? A bit of pushback against, or maybe just a warning to, the controversial and growing Somali communities in Lewiston and Portland?

Do the myriad motivations, interests and rationalizations at work expanding these state enforcement roles reflect the darker desire of the powerful of a society on the edge of collapse to implement more and more instruments of control as they forsee a need to protect wealth against threats from within?

Also: Hey wait, this isn’t only about immigrants! The new executive order that weirdly aims to promote the enforcement of federal immigration law, as Gerald Weinand points out, rescinds a prior executive order that dealt not only with a person’s privacy with regard to their immigration status, but also their “sexual orientation, status as a victim of domestic violence, status as a victim of sexual assault, status as a crime witness, status as a person with a disability, receipt of public assistance, or immigration status, and … all information contained in any individual’s income tax records.” Worth noting.

Lastly, here’s your music video. The post title comes from here:

Public Enemy, By the Time I Get to Arizona

3 Comments leave one →
  1. drip permalink
    January 17, 2011 4:27 PM

    I wonder who is going to sign on as mates on the deep sea boats leaving from Isle de Haut and Jonesport, who is going to pick the blueberries next July, who is going to clean those hotel rooms and wash the dishes in Portland and who is going to sleep where there are no towns, but only letters and numbers to be ready to cut the logs– maybe some of those Canadian relations who will scamper back to the great white north for some healthcare. I wonder what the Great State of Maine will do when they realize that the illegals (if they even exist in numbers large enough to be meaningful) pay taxes but use few services, never ask for refunds and keep what passes for an economy in Maine limping along.

    LePage is an example of a reactionary at war with both the capital class and the working class. He is aware of the problems of large scale capitalism, but his solution is to pit clam diggers, woodsmen and fruit pickers against each other on the basis of the accidents of birth.

    LePage. French sounding, isn’t it? Doesn’t he brag about growing up speaking French? Maybe he’s from Somalia, but more likely a part of the great unwashed Quebecois or whatever you call the folks from New Brunswick. I want to see his papers.

    • February 1, 2011 12:53 PM

      you’re making me look bad, drip. more thought went into your comment than did the o.p.

  2. February 12, 2011 9:10 AM

    I hope LePage’s “son”(cough cough) has all his paperwork in order when he crosses the border from the Live free or Die state. It might be embarrassing to Paul’s handler, Dan Demeritt if the kid was stopped for speeding. But then ole Paul will just tell us he had no idea the kid was not a US citizen.

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