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Updated: June 22, 2023

Pingree urges shelter funding boost for asylum seekers

Pingree in front of US Capitol building
Photo / Courtesy Office of U.S .Rep. Chellie Pingree
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine 1st District.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, on Wednesday introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security Bill that would boost funding for shelters and other services in Maine and across the country.

The bill is currently before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

Speaking to fellow subcommittee members, Pingree underscored the urgent need to help asylum seekers in Maine’s largest city and surrounding towns and the need to help nonprofit organizations coming to their aid.
“You may not realize this, but Portland, Maine, is actually a major destination for asylum seekers entering this country,” Pingree said. “And that’s been a great thing — Maine has an aging population and we need people to move to our state, and I’m proud to have these new neighbors who are so eager to contribute to their new home. Unfortunately, the situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic and housing shortages and more resources are needed to support a growing asylum seeker population and the neighbors who have welcomed them.”

She also noted that while lawmakers allocated $800 million in 2023, the current bill allocates zero. 

Pingree’s amendment would transfer $200 million from border wall funding under U.S. Customs and Border Protection  to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Shelter and Services Program.

The measure would also language directing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide data to FEMA to help inform the agency’s decisions on where funding should be provided. 

That data would include historical data and future projections of encounters of families and single adults by Ports of Entry and Border Patrol. 

Additionally, the measure directs FEMA to ensure the Appropriations Committee receives data from SSP grantees on the use of funds. 

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