Due to Trump Actions, Maine to See Fewest Refugees Resettled in 7 Years

By Bleiberg, Jake | Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME), July 21, 2017 | Go to article overview

Due to Trump Actions, Maine to See Fewest Refugees Resettled in 7 Years


Bleiberg, Jake, Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME)


PORTLAND, Maine -- The organization that helps refugees first transition to life in Maine is expecting half the number of people it originally planned to resettle in the state this year.

Catholic Charities of Maine had planned to help resettle 685 refugees from around the world by the end of September, but now expects about 350 to have arrived by the close of that month, when the federal government's fiscal year ends, a spokeswoman said.

The anticipated drop would bring the number of refugees resettled in Maine to its lowest point since at least 2011, according to Catholic Charities data, and is the result of the Trump administration's sharp reduction in the total number of refugees allowed into the United States.

Following his inauguration, President Donald Trump slashed the number of refugees the U.S. would take in this year, dropping the count to 50,000 from President Barack Obama's planned 110,000.

It is not clear what will happen to the people who had been approved to come to the U.S. but now can't, said Catholic Charities spokeswoman Judy Katzel.

Some might be taken in by other counties, but "they will probably remain in a refugee camp overseas," she said.

This decrease led Catholic Charities to shrink its staff focused on resettlement, according to Katzel. However, she said the organization has also expanded in other areas to handle administrative tasks around refugee arrivals that the state government stopped performing last year.

Earlier in July, the State Department said it had hit the 50,000 cap, and this week the Supreme Court affirmed the president's power to limit refugee admission.

Pending a fuller review of Trump's ban on travel from six predominantly Muslim countries in October, the court is allowing close relatives of American residents from those countries to continue to come to the U.S. but upholding the executive order blocking more refugees.

Of the 761 refugees to come to Maine last year, 219 came from Somalia and Sudan, which are both included in Trump's travel ban. …

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