WMTW Channel 8 | by Phil Hirschkorn | September 28, 2021
PORTLAND, Maine —
Since the last troops left Afghanistan, the United States government has approved 50,000 people from that country to resettle in America.
Many are already at U.S. military bases, and dozens will be coming to Maine.
Catholic Charities of Maine will initiate the resettlement of 67 to 100 Afghans projected to arrive in Maine between October and March.
It is the local lead agency in the U.S. State Department’s new Afghan Placement and Assistance Program. Catholic Charities is contracted to provide 90 days of services, including housing, education and job support.
The federal government is giving each arrival a one-time stipend of about $900.
“No matter how much we multiply that, that might only be able to cover security deposit and first month’s rent at best. Which means in the following months, there has to be other solutions to step in,” said Charles Mugabe, of Catholic Charities Maine.
The Afghans are neither refugees nor holders of special immigrant visas granted to those who helped the U.S. military. They are entering under what is considered humanitarian parole and may apply for political asylum.
“We hope to place them in areas with communities, where they connect, where they can well integrate — areas with existing social support,” Mugabe said.
The Afghans will likely be placed in the Portland metro area, Lewiston-Auburn area, as well as Augusta and Waterville. The new arrivals will have immediate legal authorization to work.
“That’s very different but exciting too, because it helps with fast-forwarding, you know, integration,” said Mufalo Chitam, of the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition. “We’re expecting some who don’t have the language. But we’re also expecting ones that do have the language. Either way, we are going to have to work and find them jobs.”
Where the Afghans will ultimately live will depend on affordable housing, job opportunities, public transportation and English language classes.