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Catholic Charities To Resettle Up To 100 Afghans In Maine Under New Federal Program

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Ari Snider
/
Maine Public
Catholic Charities Maine will administer the resettlement process for dozens of displaced Afghans, but it is looking to NGOs as well as state and local government agencies to provide additional support.

Up to 100 displaced Afghan citizens will be resettled in Maine under a new State Department program, following the withdrawal of U.S. forces in that country. Catholic Charities Maine will administer the resettlement process, which will continue through March of next year.

CCM announced in a press release Thursday it will resettle somewhere between 67 and 100 people through the federal Afghan Placement and Assistance Program, and that it will look to partner organizations to help support the new arrivals.

The Department of State created the program to help Afghans whose association with the US put them in danger under Taliban rule - including NGO workers and journalists.

Under normal circumstances, CCM receives federal funding to resettle people who are already classified as refugees. But the Afghan arrivals will not yet have refugee status, which means they won’t be eligible for certain federal benefits.

"We were very clear with our partners that we’re going to need wider community support, especially for employment and medical services,” said Hannah DeAngelis, director of refugee and immigration services at CCM.

The partners that DeAngelis is referring to include adult education centers, nonprofit groups, and state and local government agencies.

DeAngelis added that her organization will prioritize resettling new arrivals near family members already in Maine. For those without family connections in the state, DeAngelis says they’ll try to place them close to relevant services.

“So we will be looking for housing that is affordable and in areas with resources like public transportation, English language classes, employment opportunities,” she said, adding that Augusta and Biddeford are likely resettlement destinations, as housing costs there aren’t quite as high as they are in the greater Portland area.

DeAngelis said there is no set timeline for when Afghans will begin arriving in Maine under this program, but said the federal government has indicated it could take weeks or months to process people after they arrive at military bases in the U.S.

So far, the U.S. has approved over 50,000 Afghans for resettlement through March of 2022, according to a Catholic Charities press release.