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Pingree: House Supplemental Bill Includes $60M to Support Communities Welcoming Asylum Seekers

Washington, June 21, 2019

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today announced the House Appropriations Committee has released an emergency supplemental spending package, which includes $60 million to support communities, like Portland, Maine, which have “experienced a significant influx of” asylum seekers. The legislation provides $4.5 billion in emergency spending to address the humanitarian crisis at the border, with significant funding for priorities including legal assistance, food, water, and medical services, support services for unaccompanied children, alternatives to detention, and refugee services.

“The United States remains a beacon of safety and hope for people fleeing violence around the world. I am incredibly proud that Mainers have welcomed asylum seekers arriving in Portland, but the city also needs our support, “said Pingree. “That’s why I’ve advocated for the bill to include $60 million to help community organizations and municipalities that have stepped and shown compassion in the face of this humanitarian crisis.”

Last Friday, Pingree attended a meeting with Governor Janet Mills and City of Portland officials to discuss a coordinated response to the recent influx of migrant families arriving in Portland. Following the meeting, Pingree toured the Portland Expo and met with asylum-seekers who are temporarily sheltered there.

Pingree recently re-introduced a work authorization bill to allow asylum seekers to work earlier. The Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act would reduce the current 180 day waiting period for work authorization to 30 days. Thus, an asylum seeker could apply for authorization as soon as the asylum claim is filed. The bill makes no changes to law or regulation relating to the asylum process. This arbitrary waiting period of 180 days denies Maine businesses access to an able-bodied workforce at a time when they desperately need employees. This could have an impact on these new asylum seekers—allowing them to work and be self-sufficient through the process of establishing roots in this community.

The text of the bill is here. A division-by-division summary is here. A comparison of the House and Senate emergency border supplementals is here.

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