Preserving the American Dream

Two years after the September 11th tragedy, fear, anxiety and isolation were still common emotions throughout Maine’s Muslim, immigrant, refugee and people of color communities. The Center, in collaboration with the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) and the Maine Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild (NLG), worked to provide these targeted groups with public education, outreach, legal services and advocacy.

In November 2003, the Center released a report entitled The Fractured American Dream: The Destructive Impact of U.S. Anti-Terrorism Policy on Muslim, Latino and Other Immigrants and Refugees Two Years After September 11th, 2001. The report documents incidents of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bias experienced by Maine residents in the years since September 11th, as well as the effects of these incidents on communities of color.

The report documented and found that while hate crimes and bias incidents decreased in 2002, anxiety and fear in Muslim, Latino and other immigrant and refugee communities actually increased. The Center learned from many of the interviewees is that the United States government’s anti-terrorism and immigration policies are primarily responsible for increased levels of anxiety. Detentions, deportations, special registration and the PATRIOT Act combined to alienate many members of Maine’s communities, making them feel scared, depressed and isolated. Many community members no longer feel safe in the world outside of their homes.