Documentary: Harvest of Empire

Harvest of Empire
Sunday, April 29 between 2 and 5 p.m.
Morrell Room of Curtis Memorial Library
The documentary shows the role that U.S. economic and military interests play in causing the waves of migration.

The wall that President Trump wants to build at the Mexican border will only add to the wall of ignorance between us and our Latin American neighbors. We have a chance to learn about the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today. On Sunday, April 29 between 2 and 5 p.m. in the Morrell Room of Curtis Memorial Library, Harvest of Empire will be shown. The documentary shows the role that U.S. economic and military interests play in causing the waves of migration.

From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S.

Juan Gonzalez, who wrote the book on which the film is based, notes that “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north.”

The showing of the film is co-sponsored by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, PeaceWorks, Sanctuary Brunswick, Veterans for Peace, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Brunswick is now a Welcoming Town

We at Sanctuary Brunswick are pleased to share the good news that Brunswick Town Council passed our Welcoming Resolution on Tuesday, February 20. Brunswick is now a Welcoming Town with the stated intent of:

“Welcoming and supporting the successful integration of immigrants into our community as it also seeks to deepen the sensitivity of our citizens to the challenges faced by our newest neighbors. The Town Council will help create and support efforts to meet those challenges and encourage a sharing of cultures and concerns that will raise awareness and appreciation of the gifts contributed by all to enrich our community.”

In the next months we will be planning opportunities for learning about our new neighbors and getting to know them. This will include celebrations with food and music from immigrant cultures as well as community discussion of why it is that people around the world are fleeing their home countries. We want to be open to discussion of what role U.S. foreign policy may play and to considering new ways of interacting with the governments of other nations.

Brunswick Adopts Resolution Welcoming New Residents

Critics of the resolution, however, say the move is a stepping stone toward making Brunswick a sanctuary city.

Titled “Resolution welcoming new residents,” the idea was put forward by Sanctuary Brunswick, an organization dedicated to the acceptance of immigrants. With the resolution, the council said the town would “welcome and support the successful integration of immigrants into our community as it also seeks to deepen the sensitivity of our citizens to the challenges faced by our newest neighbors.”

The decision comes after the council approved a new banner in the town office that depicts a variety of ethnicities and the phrase “Welcome New Mainers.” Supporters of the resolution said it follows the same sentiment as the banner.

The resolution also mentions a number of other minorities and includes acceptance of all sexual orientations, gender identities and races.

However some residents came out against the resolution, saying they fear that it, coupled with the banner, is a step toward the town putting itself against state and federal law.

“I find the banner and the resolution a means towards an end to a sanctuary town that can eventually oppose federal laws,” said Jim Sanoski. Sanctuary cities limit cooperation with federal efforts to enforce immigration law.

Sanoski said he had problems with the potential legal pitfalls and the possibility the town might run afoul of federal law. He added that Brunswick has always been a welcoming community and that a resolution stating such was unnecessary. He also criticized the banner, saying he didn’t see depictions of Caucasians.

Councilor David Watson was the lone dissenting vote, and said the lack of any language stating that the resolution is aimed only at legal immigrants, not illegal immigrants, prevented him from voting for it.

“As a police officer I can’t condone criminal conduct,” he said.

The resolution does not distinguish between legal and undocumented immigrants, although it does specify supporting civil liberties and human rights “without regard to … citizenship or immigration status.”

Watson made a motion to add the word “legal” to the mention of immigration, but it failed to gain any support.

By contrast, other councilors commented wholeheartedly in support of the resolution. Councilor Steve Walker said he’d approve the town going even further.

“I certainly would support the next step of Brunswick becoming a sanctuary city if that’s what it came to,” he said.

Councilor Kathy Wilson, who also supported the resolution, said that her own experiences in Brunswick indicate the town isn’t always welcoming.

“Coming from a community of people who are often discriminated against and not welcomed, as a gay person, this does cover that in here,” she said.

Wilson was the target of an anti-LGBT flier that was distributed to some residents in September. She received anti-gay hate mail after articles in multiple publications appeared about the flier.

“This isn’t going to change laws,” she said. “What this does is just extend a hand that says you’re welcome here.”

Brunswick formed a human rights task force in 2015 after Bowdoin students said they were accosted by people yelling racial slurs and other insults at them on multiple occasions.

“Students were being verbally assaulted passing through our town,” said Councilor Jane Millett. She added that adopting a simple welcoming message does not make Brunswick a sanctuary city.

“If we get to that step, you can certainly have your say,” she said. “But this is not what this is.”

How Can Brunswick Resist Trump’s Cruel Immigration Policies?

From Brunswick Times Record, January 31, 2018


Last year, my heart broke when I read about the thousands of Central American children making the dangerous trip from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras through Mexico and crossing the border into our country in a desperate attempt to flee the violence in their countries. I knew that U.S. policies had played a major role in creating the violent conditions in those countries, and I felt that the least our community could do was to help the victims of this violence by offering them sanctuary.

A few of us formed the Sanctuary Brunswick group, and produced a brochure explaining that sanctuary can be broadly defined as refuge, haven, harbor, port in a storm, oasis, shelter, or retreat. We said that every day’s news brings reports of attacks on Muslims and deportations of Latinos. One way that all of us can resist the rising tide of hostility and anger in the United States is by declaring our town a place of sanctuary for people fleeing war and crime and poverty in their own countries. Furthermore we said, we do not accept migrants simply out of sympathy or a sense of goodwill, but because we acknowledge their contribution to our economy and our culture.

We concluded with these words: “Sanctuary says: We will not allow their lives to be filled with fear. It is our duty to protect our brothers and sisters. If history has taught us anything, it is that we must never be silent when members of our communities are threatened. A government that threatens any of us is a danger to all of us.”

At a very well attended community conversation that we organized in September, it was clear that many people in this area are ready and willing to welcome newcomers to Brunswick.

It seems to me that there is even more reason to declare Brunswick a sanctuary town today, not only for the sake of our neighbors in Central America and around the world, but for our own sakes as moral, caring people. Although we would very much like to ask the town council to declare Brunswick a sanctuary town, we recognize the difficulties of doing so in this political climate. Instead, we are asking the council to accept a welcoming resolution, which states that Brunswick welcomes immigrants and supports their paths toward citizenship.

President Trump recently announced that the temporary protective status granted 200,000 Salvadorans after hurricanes devastated their country in 2001 is being revoked. This was a terrible blow to people who’ve lived here most of their lives, who’ve found work here, married and had children here, bought houses, and built communities here. It was also a terrible blow to us, their neighbors, who think of America as a land that welcomes the “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

We know what the consequences of deportation are for the Salvadorans. They will lose their jobs and their homes. Their families in El Salvador will lose the remittance payments that keep them afloat. Their children, who were born here, will face two awful choices: lose their parents if they remain in the U.S., or accompany their parents to El Salvador where gangs will target them for membership — dangerous if they agree; equally dangerous if they refuse. The entrance of 200,000 people into the poverty-stricken country will add to the poverty, violence and crime in a country that already sees 14 killings a day. The violent crime associated with the drug trade deters investment, and suffocates economic growth and job creation so that more people will be forced to flee to the United States.

No immigrant can feel safe given President Trump’s immigration policy. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived here, whether you have families or ties to the community; whether you face repression and violence in your country of origin. It’s a policy of cruelty and terror: increased ICE raids; a crackdown by border control forces; increased use of detention facilities where brutal conditions prevail; more severe legal penalties. New detention facilities are being planned for Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul and Salt Lake City.

And what about the consequences for us Americans? What is it doing to us as human beings to stand by and watch our fellow human beings treated so cruelly, so heartlessly? Have we persuaded ourselves that the 200,000 Salvadorans or the 59,000 Haitians or the 5,000 Nicaraguans or the 1,000 Sudanese, all of whom are slated to lose their protective status, are less than us?

When you hear of the date for the Council appearance, we hope you will join us in support of kindness and humaneness by speaking up or simply by being there. You can reach us through

Selma Sternlieb lives in Brunswick. She is a member of PeaceWorks.

Welcoming Resolution


WHEREAS, the United States of America, from its inception, has been a nation of immigrants, young and old, seeking refuge from war and persecution; and

WHEREAS, immigrants and their descendants founded, built and cherished the town of Brunswick and for more than two centuries have lived in
liberty and under the protection of the rights guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution, Bill of Rights, and laws; and

WHEREAS, immigrants have come to America seeking opportunities and rights not attainable in their countries of origin, including the freedom of speech and assembly, the right to worship as their conscience dictates, the freedom to love the partner of their choosing, the opportunity to receive education, earn a living, and pass on these rights to their children; and

WHEREAS this nation’s immigrants have woven the social, cultural, political, scientific and economic fabric that serves as the foundation of our country; and

WHEREAS, America and the world have seen that individual or systemic acts of intolerance toward others engender only further hostility, discord and destruction of lives; and

WHEREAS, our inclusive rainbow of unique, creative, diverse, and tolerant individuals and business owners define the very essence of the town of Brunswick; and

WHEREAS, the town of Brunswick supports the civil liberties and human rights of all people without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, gender identity, ability, citizenship or immigration status, and will not deny services to any individual based upon these criteria

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the town of Brunswick welcomes immigrants and all new residents and visitors to our community, and supports their paths toward citizenship, recognizing the extraordinary efforts and resilience of the individuals who move to our community under the most difficult of circumstances, and who face barriers including unfamiliar language, culture, and divisive political rhetoric.

A Community Conversation:

Should Brunswick offer sanctuary to immigrants and refugees?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 7 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church, Brunswick

Featuring representatives of

ILAP (Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project) ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)

Town Manager, Brunswick Police Department, Brunswick Brunswick town council Immigrant Resource Center of Maine The Religious Community

Please join us

Graphic: American Friends Service Committee — Website: