Asylum seekers

Eliana Miller / Maine Public

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.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

About 140 asylum seekers slept on cots in the Portland Expo building Wednesday night — the first night that the building was opened to the hundreds of new arrivals from the southern U.S. border over the past few days. More are expected soon.

Julie Pike / Maine Public

The city of Portland is moving hundreds of asylum seekers into an emergency shelter at the Portland Expo.


After a change in policy at the U.S. Border Portland has received, as of Tuesday morning, a total of 67 asylum seekers in the last two days, with as many as 150 to come in the next few days.

PORTLAND, Maine - Officials in Maine's largest city say dozens of arrivals of asylum seekers are straining a shelter system that's already overcrowded.

Trump Proposes To Charge Asylum-Seekers To Apply

Apr 30, 2019
Susan Walsh / Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is proposing charging asylum-seekers a fee to process their applications as he continues to try to crack down on the surge of Central American migrants trying to cross into the U.S.

PORTLAND, Maine - Officials in Maine's largest city say Portland is turning down a $68,000 police grant because of the city's position on asylum seekers.

Portland activists are asking Maine's congressional delegation to do something about the changes to asylum procedures that were announced yesterday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions said the United States will no longer grant asylum strictly on the basis of a threat of domestic violence.

These new guidelines could dash the hopes of many of the women seeking refuge in the United States, says Alain Nahimana, the executive director of The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center.

The Maine Supreme Court has turned back an attempt by Gov. Paul LePage to limit welfare benefits for some immigrants.

The case was brought forward by Euphrem Manirakiza, an asylum seeker from Burundi who was denied SNAP benefits, or food stamps, in 2015.

This denial happened despite the fact that two years earlier the Legislature specifically authorized such benefits for immigrants who, like Manirakiza, were unemployed but had legal work permits in the U.S.

How a Maine Community Changed by Refugees Came to Embrace Trump

Apr 19, 2017
David Goldman / Associated Press

LEWISTON, Maine - Richard Rodrigue stood in the back of a banquet hall, watching his blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter mingle among her high school classmates. These teenagers speak dozens of languages, and hail from a dozen African nations.

PORTLAND, Maine - Almost 200 asylum seekers living in Portland may face another hurdle to getting financial aid for food and housing:  New state legislation limits to two years the length of time asylum seekers can receive general assistance benefits.

City officials in Portland say federal law may prevent the city from stepping in to provide that aid.

"The problem is at the federal level, their law says unless the state allows it, the local municipality may not be able to provide that assistance on their own," says Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage is floating the idea of suing the federal government for the money the state spends on asylum seekers.
In a WVOM-FM interview on Tuesday, LePage claimed most Maine asylum seekers come from other states after overstaying visas. LePage said it takes up to two years to process an application, and said it's inappropriate for states to pay during that period.
The governor said he hopes the Trump administration would reduce that waiting period.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The latest attempt by the LePage administration to exclude certain immigrants from receiving benefits under local general assistance programs came under fire at a public hearing in Augusta today.

Opponents object to a proposed redefinition of what it means to be "lawfully present" in the state.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Portland City Council has enacted new eligibility guidelines for asylum seekers to receive welfare benefits.

A new law went into effect last week re-establishing general assistance for asylum seekers after Gov. Paul LePage failed to meet the deadline for vetoing the proposal.

PORTLAND, Maine - An analysis by the city of Portland shows that as many as one-third of the city's 900 immigrants may be ineligible for city aid because they have expired visas and have not applied for asylum.

The Portland Press Herald reports city officials are trying to determine who qualifies as an asylum seeker under the city's revised aid program.