March 8, 2018

New immigration policies could hit Downeast businesses hard

The Trump administration's revocation of the federal Temporary Protected Status program, which allows migrants to stay in the United States when their home countries face violence or natural disaster, is expected to hit businesses in Hancock and Washington counties that depend on immigrant workers.

The Ellsworth American reported that businesses like NewLand Nursery and Landscaping Center, in Ellsworth, which employed several Haitian workers, were concerned about a November decision from the Department of Homeland Security that dictated that Haitian immigrants in the program have to leave the United States after July 2019.

April Norton, the director of human resources at Jasper Wyman and Sons, told the American that the loss of TPS program will be a challenge for the blueberry company, where seven of its full-time farm crew have been designated as having temporary protected status.

"These are taxpaying individuals, they're contributing to their 401(k) plans … So we will be affected, and they will be affected, too," Norton said.

In an email, Ian Yaffe, executive director of Milbridge-based farmworker nonprofit Mano en Mano, said he said he wasn't sure how many workers might be affected in Hancock and Washington counties, but that there were multiple industries in this area that could be affected.

"I'd think that the blueberry companies in Ellsworth would be the most affected as well as the wreath-making companies in Washington County; both seem to have larger numbers of Haitians in their workforce," Yaffe said.


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