You have to read past the Portland Press Herald headline to understand how impactful these asylum seekers are on the needs of the city’s other residents seeking help:
Portland is providing emergency financial assistance to an unprecedented number of immigrants who have come to seek asylum, and the group now accounts for 63 percent of the city’s general assistance budget, according to data released by the city Monday.
More asylum seekers and visa holders who are expected to apply for asylum have received general assistance from the city in the first five months of the current fiscal year than in the entire previous fiscal year. The number receiving aid increased from 1,716 in all of fiscal 2014 to 1,899 in the first five months of fiscal 2015, which began July 1.
“Those are the highest numbers we’ve had,” said Robert Duranleau, the city’s social services director.
Meanwhile, the portion of the city’s general assistance funds used to help all other people pay for rent, food and other necessities has fallen sharply to 37 percent in the current fiscal year from 64 percent in 2014. The city gave aid to 2,594 people who were not asylum seekers or visa holders in fiscal year 2014, and to 927 in the first five months of fiscal 2015.
And we are talking about Maine. Not Texas. Not Florida. Maine!
To his credit, re-elected Maine Gov. Paul LePage is working to put a stop to this insanity: LePage has “sought to prohibit asylum seekers and other undocumented immigrants from receiving general assistance – a move that is being challenged in state court by Portland, Westbrook and the Maine Municipal Association, a nonprofit representing towns and cities.”
Of course it’s being challenged. Portland and Westbrook are liberal territory. Micro-brew pubs, chic shops and tourist destinations along the waterfront, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods. Need I say more?
And, of course, none of this is the asylum seekers’ or Mainers’ fault:
Sue Roche, the executive director for the nonprofit Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, maintains that the figures do not represent an overall increase in the number of immigrants coming to Portland.
Instead, the figures represent a logjam in the asylum application process that has prolonged the wait for work permits and resident status, as well as a tight labor market that is difficult to break into, especially if someone doesn’t speak English well, she said.
“When you see those numbers spike, it’s not necessarily new people who come, it’s the people who were in the process before and still in the process. And you have new people coming in as well,” said Roche, whose group helps asylum seekers navigate the legal process.
The “asylum application process” has produced a backlog and similar problems in New Jersey — all during the Obama Regime rule:
The number of new asylum applications filed in the Northeast region nearly doubled – rising from 2,928 to 5,633 – between fiscal years 2010 and 2013. And the regional office in New Jersey received more than 3,500 applications during the first six months of fiscal year 2014, well above the 2013 pace.
Just in case you think the Portland Press Herald is reporting the news, it is actually working overtime to push the Obama agenda. Last July, the paper’s editorial board tried to convince its readership that the “asylum seekers” need more of Maine’s resources, not less.
Maybe the Herald‘s editorial board should talk with its neighbors in Lewiston. The City of Lewiston, by the way, reports on a regular basis of not only the financial costs but also the social costs of having “asylum seekers” thrust upon its citizenry. Just do an online search. Plenty to find about asylees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo living there.
And there is a large number of Somalis living in Lewiston. They began arriving in 2001.
Lewiston has experienced an uptick in “asylum seeker” residents in the past year. MPBN, Maine’s NPR News Service, reported last July:
Sue Charron, director of social services for the city of Lewiston, is handling the wave on the front lines. She says last year only 29 refugees applied for General Assistance. But requests from asylum seekers are up dramatically.
“With the beginning of this fiscal year, which was July 1st of 2013 through June 30th of 2014, there were 70 new asylum seeker cases that applied for General Assistance,” Charron said. “And the prior year was 16 and the prior year before that was 13.”
Charron says of the 70 applicants for General Assistance, Charron says all 70 got help. But going forward, granting it will be more difficult. The state’s new definition for unlawful immigrants includes people who have expired visas and who don’t have required paperwork. Over the last three weeks, since the new DHHS directive was issued, Charron says she’s identified 30 such people. The state has warned that cities and towns that do not follow the directive will jeopardize state reimbursement funding for GA.
Why, then, do these “asylum seekers” so love Maine — and are willing to relocate from states where they were originally settled? Could it be that “Maine is one of the few states that help asylum seekers, by making them eligible for General Assistance.”