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More Asylum Seekers Heading For Portland, City Manager Says

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Julie Pike
/
Maine Public
Children play under cots set up last summer at the Portland Expo to accommodate a wave of hundreds of asylum seekers.

More than 30 new immigrants are set to arrive in Portland Friday morning. City Manager Jon Jennings said the group of asylum seekers is made up of individuals and families. "This is a manageable situation, but we felt that it's important that the community know this is happening and we want to be transparent with everyone," Jennings said at a press availability Thursday morning.

Jennings said he's not sure how many more immigrants might follow the initial busload, but said that the number is unlikely to match the hundreds of asylum seekers that arrived in the city from the southern border this past summer.

The new group, from Central African Countries, will come via bus from San Antonio, Texas, where they have been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Jennings said individuals and families will be processed through the city's Oxford Street Shelter and Chestnut Street overflow location.  The Portland YMCA has agreed to shelter additional people if needed.

"Of course the city simply can't do everything for everyone," Jennings said. "I mean, hopefully, people recognize that we have stepped in the breach on any number of occasions to provide shelter and food and access to health care and so forth over the course of the summer. This is a different circumstance because we have limited facilities."

Jennings said the influx of newcomers could put pressure on the city's resources, and blames the situation on shortcomings in federal policy. "We are the real world example of what's happening because of the failures in Washington," he said.

Jennings said the city will work with nonprofits and surrounding municipalities to house people that the city can't accommodate.