Refugee resettlement is a humanitarian imperative, particularly when there are more than 65 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. It’s also a legal obligation for the U.S. under our international law commitments. But refugee resettlement isn’t just an obligation; it’s an opportunity. In Maine, since 1980, refugee resettlement has been a reliable source of new community members, who go on to join Maine’s labor force and to contribute in myriad ways.
That reliable stream of refugees has slowed to a trickle under the new Administration. In FY 2016, about 650 refugees were resettled in Maine. To date in FY 2018, only 30 refugees have been resettled in the state. The Administration’s various travel bans have targeted nationalities that have predominated Maine’s refugee resettlement activity in recent years, such as Somalis and Syrians. As a result, Maine is experiencing greater reductions in refugee resettlement numbers than many other states.
With unemployment below 4% in Maine for 26 straight months, this reduction in refugee resettlement has economic repercussions for Maine, as we lose a source of consumers, workers, and community members. Learn more in this Portland Press Herald article.