September 23, 2019
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Janet Mills says Portland won’t be alone in responding to influx of asylum seekers

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Governor Janet Mills (left) and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (right) meet with members of the public and other stakeholders in Portland on Friday to discuss how to respond to the hundreds of asylum seekers now arriving in the city.

Gov. Janet Mills said the state is looking at all of its resources to assist the city of Portland following the arrival of hundreds of asylum seekers from the southern border over the past few days.

Mills met with more than 30 local, state and federal officials in Portland on Friday afternoon. City staffers told Mills that Portland has already raised more than $200,000 to help provide aid to the nearly 200 asylum seekers who have arrived since Sunday.

Portland City Councilor Justin Costa told Mills the city still faces many challenges.

[Portland’s immigrant community rallies to welcome new asylum seekers]

“We don’t operate that number of beds. We don’t operate that number of facilities to be able to accommodate this,” he said. “So I think that that’s the next step that we are going to need to address.”

The city opened up the Portland Expo building as an emergency shelter on Wednesday, and various groups have offered services including medical supplies and food.

Mills says that Portland will not be alone in responding to the situation, and she thanked the University of Southern Maine, which has offered to open about 200 beds in a dorm on its Gorham campus as temporary housing.

[Gov. Mills to meet with officials to discuss how to respond to asylum seekers in Portland]

“We’ve been dealt a situation that we’re going to deal with as a broader community, not just the city of Portland,” Mills said. “The broader community of the people of the state of Maine are going to be lending a hand and helping these people who are in such dire need. They call on us and we will be there for them.”

Mills urged other municipalities to assist Portland, as well. Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree also attended the meeting and said she hopes to garner some federal funds to help cities — including Portland — that are trying to meet the needs of asylum seekers.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.



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