We have reported on the problem in Maine for months (years!). The gist of it is that Maine has had a wonderland of welfare for immigrants (that is what brought the first Somalis to Lewiston years ago) and now the LePage Administration is trying to cut back social services to asylum seekers. (The federal government does not give welfare to asylum seekers until they have become legitimate legal refugees.)
Apparently the word got out throughout Africa and elsewhere—get to Maine and you can get social services while you wait for your asylum application to be processed. So they came.
For new readers, asylum seekers get into the US on their own (visa overstays etc.) and then apply for asylum (claiming to be persecuted at home). If granted asylum they become “refugees” in the full sense of the word and get federal taxpayer goodies and help from a federal resettlement contractor. But, thanks to the border crashers an already over full asylum court can’t get to cases for years.
Here is a bit of the story at CentralMaine.com, but you should read the whole thing (of course it starts out with a sympathetic ‘star’ of the story, Journalism 101?). They are all “vulnerable” you know! (but aren’t there Americans who are vulnerable as well?).
Once vulnerable in their homelands, Maine’s asylum seekers, in growing numbers, are left waiting – for permission to work, for their status to change and, now, to see if looming welfare reforms will make them vulnerable all over again.
Thousands of people from war-torn or politically troubled nations in sub-Saharan Africa have arrived in Maine in recent years on their own with visas that allow them to visit, work or study on a temporary basis, only to seek asylum so they can stay permanently. Asylum applicants wait in a fuzzy legal status in which they are considered to be undocumented but protected from deportation. And at the same time they are prohibited by federal law from working for at least six months – and sometimes much longer.
Meanwhile, the wait for asylum can take years, with a nationwide backlog of applications that is expected to grow because of the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern U.S. border in recent months.
Moral of the story—if your state gives generous welfare benefits to asylum seekers, they will come.
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