PORTLAND – As the crisis at America’s southern border worsens amid Congressional gridlock on the issue, reports from a CBS affiliate in San Antonio, Texas indicate that a large group of as many as 350 migrants from Congo and Angola will be arriving in that city in coming days. City workers in San Antonio reportedly reached out to officials in Portland, Maine in hopes they could send them here.
It appears, however, that city officials in Portland directly contradicted
the wishes of Mayor Ethan Strimling and declined the request.
Reports did not indicate if Portland, Maine was the city that was approached first to accept the migrants because of Portland’s reputation for offering relatively generous welfare benefits to individuals who cross the border without proper documentation, or if Maine’s larger French-speaking population was a factor due to the native language of the migrants.
Officials in Texas are also looking for French-speaking interpreters to help with the migrants as they search for other cities to send them to.
In April, Mayor Ethan Strimling said in response to President Donad Trump’s suggestion he would send detained immigrants to sanctuary cities like Portland, that Strimling would say to them, “Welcome home!” He was also later quoted saying, “Bring them on.”
That statement from Strimling drew a rebuke from Portland’s Human Resources Director, who stood up to him at a public meeting of the city’s budget committee. She reminded Mayor Strimling that he was pushing to bring people into an already overcrowded place where they would be forced to sleep on mats, and that staff was already being pushed to their limits.
The city has been grappling with a locally funded welfare budget that has grown out of control as more and more individuals who have crossed the border illegally are sent to Portland. Some in the city want to phase out the city’s program, which is entirely funded with local tax dollars, that is used to pay for the welfare benefits in question.
Mayor Strimling, however, wants to keep the program in place.