Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: What Can Be Done About Maui’s Illegal Immigrants?

April 30, 2017, 5:46 PM HST
* Updated May 1, 5:14 AM
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Homelessness in Hawaiʻi. Photo at The Salvation Army on Kamehameha Avenue in Kahului, April 8, 2014, by Wendy Osher.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Aloha Mayor,

Q: I am extremely worried about the future of Maui with a huge influx of illegal Mexican immigrants and the homeless population from the mainland (given one-way tickets from the city that is ridding itself of them).

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My husband and children are of Hawaiian/Japanese blood. I worked in migrant farm education while finishing my master’s degree—the drugs, gang violence and abuse of the welfare system are outrageous.

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We have a huge local population that could be assisted with these funds—I am scared for our future on Maui. At least 20% of the population in Target, Ross and Walmart are from Mexico.

I am by no means prejudiced—I am just worried about the impact this group will have on the job market, taking away jobs from our local population because they don’t pay taxes and can undercut them.

Please address these issues—please. With aloha…

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A: You raise several broad-ranging questions that span a variety of jurisdictions, agencies and oversight. I have not heard of a “huge influx” of illegal immigrants from Mexico or elsewhere, but if that were the case, we would rely on federal immigration officials to monitor and enforce existing laws.

It should be noted that over several generations, Hawai‘i has seen waves of migrants from around the world who came here to work, such as on the sugar cane plantations—which may be the reason your husband’s Japanese family members came here. My own great-grandparents came here from Okinawa to farm. In today’s economy, even with our current low unemployment rate we sometimes rely on legal immigrants who are willing to take service jobs that others may not want to apply for. And when it comes to families living on the beach with children, we do not discriminate in our offer to help them find shelter and services.

My own great-grandparents came here from Okinawa to farm. In today’s economy, even with our current low unemployment rate we sometimes rely on legal immigrants who are willing to take service jobs that others may not want to apply for. And when it comes to families living on the beach with children, we do not discriminate in our offer to help them find shelter and services.

In today’s economy, even with our current low unemployment rate, we sometimes rely on legal immigrants who are willing to take service jobs that others may not want to apply for. And when it comes to families living on the beach with children, we do not discriminate in our offer to help them find shelter and services.

And when it comes to families living on the beach with children, we do not discriminate in our offer to help them find shelter and services.

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