BANGOR, MAINE (NEWS CENTER) - A new national legal immigration bill, supported by President Trump, has some people in Maine wondering how it could affect the state's economy.
President Trump says he wants to limit the number of people who can obtain green cards. The bill proposed creating a merit-based point system that would allow people to come in based on certain skills, such as ability to speak English, job skills and education.
The Maine Department of Labor shared U.S. Census Bureau statistics with NEWS CENTER, that show the number of non-citizens living in Maine is about 19,100 people. According to the same U.S.Census Bureau figures, the number of people who obtain legal permanent residency in Maine each year are relatively low:
in 2013: 1208
in 2014: 1328
in 2015: 1464
Certain industries in Maine such as those based in agriculture and tourism rely on seasonal workers to feel the workforce. Jorge Acero, State Monitor Advocate, with the Maine Department of Labor says many of those workers come to work in the state through the H2-A and H2-B programs. Both of which are temporary visa programs that would not be affected by this bill.
However, some businesses such as Wyman's of Maine rely on hiring seasonal workers who have green card status. April Norton, Wyman's Director of Human Resources ,says if the bill eventually passes, the effects on the company wouldn't be felt immediately. Norton says it would hurt the company in the long run.
"My workforce cannot be filled by my current, you know, U.S.'s population," Norton said, "I don't have the workers that want to do that kind of work."
© 2017 WLBZ-TV