State of Maine tasked with overseeing services for asylum seekers


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Nonprofits and community organizations want the state to start coordinating services for asylum seekers after Maine’s largest city announced this month that it could not no longer guarantee housing.

A total of 79 organizations signed the letter, dated Friday, saying a “coordinated statewide effort is needed to meet the moment.”

The letter was addressed to Governor Janet Mills, Portland Mayor Kate Snyder, members of the congressional delegation and others.

The Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition has had “crisis on top of crisis” since Portland’s May 5 announcement, Mufalo Chitam, executive director, told the Portland Press Herald.

Chitam said it was time to “normalize” the response to asylum seekers instead of reacting as if it were a crisis.

The governor is reviewing the letter and considering recommendations, Lindsay Crete, a spokeswoman for Mills, said in an email.

The vast majority of the 343 families, or 1,186 people, housed in the family shelter and hotels in Portland are asylum seekers from African countries. Another 62 families have arrived since the city’s announcement on May 5.

There are another 545 homeless people the city was sheltering last week, officials said.

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