Mills Says Portland Won't Be Alone In Responding To Influx Of Asylum Seekers

Jun 14, 2019

Maine Gov. Janet Mills says the state is looking at all of its resources to assist the city of Portland following the arrival of hundreds of asylum seekers from the southern border over the past few days.

Mills met with more than 30 local, state and federal officials in Portland on Friday afternoon. City staffers told Mills that Portland has already raised more than $200,000 to help provide aid to the nearly 200 asylum seekers who have arrived since Sunday.

Woman holds sign opposing the city's welcoming of newly arrived asylum seekers
Credit Eliana Miller

Portland City Councilor Justin Costa told Mills that the city still faces many challenges.

"We don't operate that number of beds. We don't operate that number of facilities to be able to accommodate this,” he says. “So I think that that's the next step that we are going to need to address."

The city opened up the Portland Expo building as an emergency shelter on Wednesday, and various groups have offered services including medical supplies and food.

Mills says that Portland will not be alone in responding to the situation, and she thanked the University of Southern Maine, which has offered to open about 200 beds in a dorm on its Gorham campus as temporary housing.

“We've been dealt a situation that we're going to deal with as a broader community, not just the city of Portland,” says Mills. “The broader community of the people of the state of Maine are going to be lending a hand and helping these people who are in such dire need. They call on us and we will be there for them."

Mills urged other municipalities to assist Portland, as well. Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree also attended the meeting and said she hopes to garner some federal funds to help cities- including Portland – that are trying to meet the needs of asylum seekers.