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  1. #1
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    Influx of asylum seekers pushing Portland to brink of its ability to serve those in n

    Influx of asylum seekers pushing Portland to brink of its ability to serve those in need




    Rachel Ohm, Portland Press Herald, Maine
    Mon, February 27, 2023 at 11:59 PM EST






    Feb. 27—Portland has welcomed more than 550 asylum seekers to the city so far this year, pushing the city to the brink of its ability to serve everyone in need, officials said Monday.

    "We are at a critical junction," Mayor Kate Snyder said. "We are at a cliff, and we don't have everything we need to respond to the needs of the community."

    Snyder and members of the City Council stressed at Monday's council meeting that the situation is dire and the city is in need of more help.

    Staff have been working to find housing and accommodations for people who have been arriving, but the city is at capacity, interim City Manager Danielle West told the council.

    "I fear that unfortunately the cliff may be coming where we can't meet the need," West said.

    Portland is currently housing 1,083 people per night, including about 300 asylum seekers being housed at a hotel in Saco that is run by Catholic Charities with the help of the state.

    In addition, West said the Oxford Street Shelter, with a capacity of 154, is full, as is the Family Shelter, with a capacity of 146 people.

    The city also is housing people at another hotel "that we're slowly taking offline," West said, and earlier this month began working with the Portland Public Schools to open up overflow overnight shelter space at a school gym.

    Other people are continuing to sleep in the Family Shelter's multipurpose room, where shelter staff Monday said that they were anticipating housing at least 26 people overnight, all of them asylum seekers.

    Thousands of asylum seekers have arrived in Portland since 2019, when a wave of about 400 people came over the summer, prompting the city to open the Portland Expo as an emergency shelter. Now, the city is seeing about 80 asylum seekers arrive per week, West said.

    "It's a significant increase from what we've had in many years in the past and it's taxing us significantly," West said.

    At the Family Shelter on Monday, several families said they came from Angola seeking asylum.

    Nlandu Katekila came to Portland in early February with his wife and two children, ages 3 and 5. He said they've been sleeping at the overflow shelter at the school and it's been difficult.

    Katekila, who worked as a businessman selling clothes on the street in Angola, said he isn't picky about jobs and hopes to be able to work doing whatever he can. But first, his family needs housing.

    "Sleeping in these conditions with kids, it's really not comfortable," said Katekila, who spoke French and talked to a reporter with the help of a shelter staff member who acted as a translator. He said his family is trying to make the best of the situation.

    "Prepared or not, we will learn to like it," Katekila said as he stood outside in the cold shortly after a dinner of chicken and vegetables was served in the crowded multipurpose room that staff were preparing to ready for overnight use.

    Nquemba Fumuzingui said she was discriminated against after her husband died in Angola, and she decided to come to Portland with her two children. "It's very difficult," said Fumuzingui, also speaking through a translator.

    She plans to seek asylum and wants to work as soon as she can. "I want to be part of everything here, pay my taxes, have a better quality of life and I know that I need to work," Fumuzingui said.

    West told councilors Monday that she is worried about reaching capacity in the multipurpose room at the Family Shelter, where earlier this month people were sleeping in chairs because there was not enough room for mats on the floor.

    "That warming shelter space is not ideal," West said. "It requires ... that we use chairs in a lot of situations to get people in with their families, sitting as they try to sleep at night so we can house as many people as possible. That situation is becoming untenable and we are obviously seeking broad and systemic solutions to this issue."

    West said the city, working with the council's legislative and nominating committee and Portland lawmakers, will be pursuing changes to the state's General Assistance laws as well as seeking a coordinated response from the state.

    "That would be specifically to have an office to coordinate all this with all of our regional municipalities as well as knowing exactly how many people we are serving and making sure all the services are provided," West said. "These numbers are just the numbers Portland is receiving. Our neighboring communities are also receiving people, so it's a significant influx to manage."

    The city is continuing to advocate for changes to work authorization to allow asylum seekers to be able to work sooner. Federal law currently requires asylum seekers to wait at least six months after filing their claim to be eligible for work authorization.

    And West said officials also have been working with the state to try and fill a need for transitional housing.

    "If there are community partners that are able to step up and find open space and able to help in this regard with capacity (it would be helpful)," West said. "We have a significant staffing shortage, so not only do we not have enough space, but we're running out of staff to meet this need, so we really do need help."

    In January, the Maine Legislature and Gov. Janet Mills set aside $21 million for emergency and long-term shelter, including just over $1 million that was recently announced for winter warming shelters around the state.

    The Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition received $266,000 to open an overnight shelter at the Salvation Army in Portland that will be targeted at asylum seekers, though the shelter has yet to open. The coalition said last week it was aiming to open by the end of the month.

    On Monday, councilors said that they are grateful for the help already provided by the state and community partners, but more is needed.

    "We have so many community partners out there who are working together through mutual aid and peer services who are trying to meet our shelter needs," Councilor April Fournier said. "I can't underscore writing letters to our congressional delegation, continuing to stay in touch with our state delegation, continuing to request support from the governor. We need help."


    https://www.yahoo.com/news/influx-as...045900303.html







    ILLEGAL ALIENS HAVE "BROKEN" OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

    DO NOT REWARD THEM - DEPORT THEM ALL

  2. #2
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    These criminal trespassers are bankrupting our communities. Deport them all back home. We have no housing; it is expensive to live here!
    ILLEGAL ALIENS HAVE "BROKEN" OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

    DO NOT REWARD THEM - DEPORT THEM ALL

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