In high school, Neil Diamond’s “They’re Coming to America” was popular, especially around the Fourth of July. Everybody sang it with gusto. People were proud of America’s immigration history. It made this nation special.

After college, I volunteered teaching English to Mexican immigrants and got to know one hard-working, gracious family especially well. In grad school, my students included Hmong and Somali refugees. Once, they had to examine a painting at an art museum and describe what it evoked in the viewer. One student chose a depiction of a violent storm and a small boat; she wrote that it reminded her of fleeing her home with her parents and about how terrified she had been.

Maine legislators have the opportunity to right a wrong by passing LD 1317, which will restore the ability of asylum seekers and many green card holders (all here legally) to receive financial support that will ease their transition to their new community.

The people who need these services have been through unimaginable suffering and they deserve our welcome and love — just because that is what decent people do. But even non-decent people would be smart to welcome young workers to this aging state and wise to remember that immigrants start twice as many businesses as native-born Americans.

America has a long history of immigrants who came here with nothing, thriving and helping this country to prosper. Not all that long ago, people were actually proud of that.

Maine legislators should pass LD 1317.

Anne Marie Wolf, Farmington

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