Pingree Announces More Than $1 Million to Support Immigrant Services in Maine
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today announced two federal grants totaling more than $1,000,000 for the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center (GPIWC). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement awarded GPIWC $776,000 over three years to support existing GPIWC programs, help coordinate ongoing work with other service providers, and help aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs. In addition, U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services (USCIS) announced $250,000—awarded through its Citizenship and Integration Grant Program—for GPIWC to develop citizenship naturalization education classes for refugees. The grant will allow GPIWC to hire a citizenship educator and to have a trained staff member authorized represent immigrants in legal proceedings.
“The programs and services the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center offers are invaluable to immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers when they arrive in Maine and beyond as they begin their new lives here,” said Pingree. “These grants will not only help maintain those vital services but expand the center’s capabilities to have an even bigger impact for new Mainers, and, in turn, on our communities. This is an investment in the future of Maine.”
“These two federal grants exemplify the growing maturity of the Immigrant Welcome Center as a provider of services,” said GPIWC Board Chair Quang Nguyen. “They will be the catalyst for development of new initiatives and expansion of our existing programs.
Throughout her tenure in Congress, Pingree has been a strong advocate for supporting immigrants and asylum seekers. She is the author of the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, legislation that aims to reduce the current 180-day waiting period for work authorization eligibility to 30 days, allowing an asylum seeker to apply for authorization as soon as the asylum claim is filed. This legislation would allow asylum seekers to gain work, be self-sufficient through the process of establishing roots in their new community and contribute to our economy.
Pingree, who is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, secured $619,000 in Community Project Funding for GPIWC in the 2023 Fiscal Year government funding bill. The Congressionally directed funding is helping GPIWC launch a comprehensive entrepreneurial leadership training program for immigrant women and girls in Maine.