Is Rockland Denmark, or Germany and France?

By Valli Geiger | Jul 12, 2018

I would like to address two subjects: Resolution 36, advocating that immigrant children be reunited with their parents, and the letter I wrote to Commissioner Carol Maines that was released to Steve Betts of the Courier without my permission.

Over the last several weeks, like many of you, I have read and watched news accounts that more than2,300 children have been separated from their parents and sent to various facilities all over the country. I have read that more than 100 of those children were infants and toddlers under the age of 5. In an act of incompetence only superseded by its malice, it appears the parents and children were given separate case numbers by DHHS and Homeland Security with no way to connect the two. I have read that congressional representatives have been refused entry to these facilities, that the few times they have been admitted, the facility appears to house boys but not girls and no answers are given for where the girls are. I have read that the caregivers have been instructed not to touch or hold these young children.

I have read that when a 14-month-old was reunited with his mother after 85 days, he was filthy and covered in lice, that it did not appear that he had been bathed in the 85 days he was held in custody, according to his mother. I have read that the administration has asked for more time to match children and parents, apparently having had no concrete plans to rejoin them.

I have read that, rather than issuing ankle bracelets that monitor location as has been done in the past, this Administration intends to build large detainment facilities to hold families indefinitely. Most of these families have come to the U.S. seeking asylum, seeking a safer place to live and raise their children.

Over the last two weeks, I have read in the Portland Press and Bangor Daily News that Border Patrol conducted an 11-hour checkpoint on I-95 in LIncoln, asking drivers and passengers about their immigration and citizenship status and using sniffer dogs that detect humans and drugs. I read that the Border Patrol Office in Bangor has proposed building a much larger holding facility. I read that Border Patrol were making frequent searches of the Concord Bus stop in Bangor, asking all passengers their immigration status. I have read that all of Maine is considered the border for ICE purposes. You may not be aware, but the ICE does not need a warrant, nor probable cause, to search your private property. I read that 11 eastern governors rescinded their agreements to send National Guard troops to the border in protest of the practice of separating families. I read that our governor volunteered to send National Guard troops and is sending two National Guard pilots and a helicopter to the southern border.

It was within this context and emotional period that I read the Knox County Sheriff’s Office was planning to conduct several traffic checkpoints over the remainder of the year. I heard from several concerned citizens over the weekend and my own curiosity and concern were aroused. I have had many sleepless nights since hearing about the thousands of children separated from their parents. I have learned it is best to get up and do something. I have written many letters to our congressional representatives in the early hours of the morning. So when I found myself awake at 4:30 thinking about checkpoints, I got up and wrote an email to Commissioner Carol Maines expressing my dismay, my concern and my questions. I asked for clarification of the intent of the checkpoints. In a breach of trust, that query was unexpectedly released to Steve Betts of the Village Soup and to the Portland Press Herald. So now, instead of a private conversation, it is a public one.

On Friday, I had the privilege to meet Chief Deputy Tim Carroll for coffee. He was shocked I would think they would be asking about immigration status. I was relieved and happy that he was shocked. The outcome of that coffee is that i have gotten to know and like Chief Deputy Carroll and next time, I will just pick up the phone, because this issue is not going away.

The Department of Justice has added to the requirements of four grants they offer to local law enforcement each year. Each grant stipulates that state and local governments cannot block or restrict information-sharing with federal authorities about a person’s citizenship or immigration status. Chicago is in court now, arguing that it is in compliance with these statutes because it has said that it does not collect information on immigration status, and therefore has no information to share. DOJ disagrees.

It is in this context that Resolution 36 comes before council. It has been said that this is a partisan issue, so council, being nonpartisan, should not hear this resolution. I disagree. Times like these come upon us without warning, we are never ready, but a moral response is called for from every American, every municipality, every state that however we may feel about immigrants and open borders, this is a step too far. If we pass this, we will be in good company: Our two Republican Representatives Poliquin and Collins, our independent Senator King and our Democratic Representative Pingree have all spoken strongly against this policy and for the reuniting of families. The Pope, the Rev. Franklin Graham, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the National Association of Pediatrics have all spoken out against this program.

The question for me is: Who are we? Are we the good Germans of the 1930s who said nothing when their Jewish neighbors were required to sew a yellow star into their clothing, who said nothing when Jewish neighborhoods were raided and families taken away? Are we the French, who, the weekend after they were invaded by the Nazis, swamped the telephone operators in their hurry to report who among their neighbors might have some Jewish blood?

Or are we the Danes, who, when invaded, followed the example of their king and sewed yellow stars into the sleeves of their clothing. Whose fishing villages organized themselves to smuggle out almost every Danish Jew aboard fishing boats under the fish. The Danes ran their Jewish neighbors' shops, watered their plants and fed their cats until they came home.

I believe in the Rockland that is more Denmark than France or Germany. I have lived in the Midcoast for 40 years and I have been overwhelmed by the kindness, tolerance and generosity of those around me. I believe we will bring our best selves to this moral crisis and I hope we start by passing this resolution. Because, after all, unless you are Native American, we were all immigrants to this country at some time.

Editor's note: This column has been edited for context from remarks the mayor made at the July 9 City Council meeting.

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at
Comments (8)
Posted by: Ian Emmott | Jul 16, 2018 10:02
Posted by: Ian Emmott | Jul 16, 2018 07:34

Under the charter the council has investigative powers. Use those powers to investigate, collect public records (emails) and hold interviews for testimony. The powers of Mayor are weak versus the strong Mayor model in smaller cities and she is clearly on an agenda of her own dividing the city. Is she exceeding her authority or abusing her position and to what extent. I would like to see more emails since these are in fact public record. I appreciate her passion on the issue, but Mayor is not the venue.

Posted by: Ian Emmott | Jul 16, 2018 06:55

Are we like the Nazis???? Are you freaking kidding me?????

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 14, 2018 14:05

I have faith that they will work it out. Agreeing to disagree is what builds relationships, not tear them down. We have an excellent city council with a lot on their plate. They have already made some tough decisions that have sat on the counter for years and will have to make more in the near future.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Jul 14, 2018 10:06

Oh, great, here we go again. Animus among our city counsellors.

Posted by: Paul Chartrand | Jul 13, 2018 04:57

Based more on the current historical situation, I'd like to think Rockland and the Rockland Mariners teams resemble the French more than the Germans or Danes.

Let's not exaggerate the comparisons. Immigration issues are complicated and a far different matter than what happened in WWII to fully legal citizens in Europe because of their religion and family backgrounds.

Posted by: Adam S Ackor | Jul 12, 2018 14:58

The letter, the mayor is referring to, was sent on her city email account, under her title as Rockland Mayor, to a county commissioner and the rest of the city council.  The email account, server and maintenance are all paid for with tax payer dollars and any communications as such are considered public documents under maine statute.  I would also add that the Mayor is the same person who provided cherry picked emails of mine to the same Steve Betts last year without asking me for permission.  The difference?  I fully expect my emails to be accessible to the public, the mayor on the other hand likes to do her business in secret.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 12, 2018 10:04

Great day for the race: THE HUMAN RACE! It is people like Mayor Geiger and our city council who give me hope and encouragement for America's future.  It is called living in the solution instead of the problem. We can all do that if we choose.

If you wish to comment, please login.