Felicia Persaud (26512)
Felicia Persaud

On Thursday, March 18, 2021, the U.S. House passed two small immigration bills that now seem as dead-on arrival in the U.S. Senate as The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. Passed on largely party line votes were the Dream Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Buried in the news reporting was the fact that one Democrat chose to vote against one of the measures.

On March 18, Rep. Jared Golden, a former veteran, who has represented the 2nd District of Maine in the United States Congress since 2019, was the lone Democrat to vote against H.R.1603, aka, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021. He had also voted against the measure on Dec. 11, 2019.

Eight days earlier, on March 10, 2021, Golden had also voted against H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. His reason in his own words: “Borrowing and spending hundreds of billions more in excess of meeting the most urgent needs poses a risk to both our economic recovery and the priorities I would like to work with the Biden administration to achieve.”

And he broke with his own party and voted against a second article of impeachment of Donald Trump, becoming the only member of the House to charge Trump with abuse of power but not with obstruction of Congress.

Golden, however, has not said why he has voted against the farm work bill––not in 2019 nor last week. The bill would create a process to earn temporary status as Certified Agricultural Workers for people who have worked at least 180 days in agriculture over the past two years; create a pathway for workers to get a green card by paying a $1,000 fine; and engaging in additional agricultural work depending on how long they have worked in agriculture in the U.S. and also streamline the process to get an H-2A visa, which allows foreign citizens into the country for temporary agricultural work.

Instead, Golden again chose to ignore issuing a reason all together, choosing instead to highlight his vote for H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act.

But buried in his statement promoting his DREAM Act vote is a clear indication of where Golden sits on immigration, and which undoubtedly explains his stance.

“There has long been bipartisan consensus that improvements to our immigration policy like H.R. 6 should be accompanied by increased investments in border security and I agree,” he is quoted as saying in a statement from his office. “That’s why in the last Congress I supported bipartisan legislation that included billions in increased border security enhancements, including additional border fencing.”

Golden has also so far chosen not to co-sponsor H.R.1177: the U.S. Citizenship Act; H.R.759: the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2021 and the H.R.536: the New Way Forward Act.

So why is Golden taking such a conservative stance? Well as the saying goes, “all politics is local,” and he is obviously playing this with his ear close to the ground.

When Golden defeated two-term Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin in 2018, it was the first time an incumbent had lost reelection in the district since 1916.

The district is also the largest district east of the Mississippi River and the 24th-largest overall. It is also the second-most rural district in the United States, with 72.11% of its population in rural areas and is 94% white.

Further, it is the only district in New England that voted for Donald Trump in 2020, while being held by a Democrat.

Golden has also shown he is big on union and local jobs in his district, noting in his vote against the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that Maine jobs come from the forest products industry, from small farmers and fishermen and from Maine’s shipyards.

And he formerly worked for Republican Sen. Susan Collins’s office, where he was a staff member of the Homeland Security Committee, learning the political trade, before being elected to the state Legislature in 2014.

Little wonder that Golden voted against the Farm Act and his conservative voting strategy is making him look more Republican than Democrat.

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow