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State of Maine asked to oversee services for asylum seekers

May 24, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Nonprofits and community organizations want the state to begin coordinating services for asylum seekers after Maine’s largest city announced this month that it could no longer guarantee housing.

All told, 79 organizations signed the letter, dated Friday, that said a “coordinated, statewide effort is necessary to meet the moment.”

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

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

Chitam said it’s time to “normalize” the response to the asylum seekers instead of responding as if it’s a crisis.

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

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

There are an additional 545 homeless individuals the city was housing as of last week, officials said.