Governor Janet Mills signs letter asking for more refugee resettlement to Maine

A picture of Governor Janet Mills and former Mayor Ethan Strimling beside a letter from Mills to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

AUGUSTA – Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling may have been the Maine politician getting most of the headlines for telling President Donald Trump to “bring them on” when calling for more non-citizens to be sent to Portland, but Governor Janet Mills signed a letter in December affirming that Maine fully consents to continuing to resettle refugees across the state.

The letter, dated December 16th and sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, boasts of Maine’s record of accepting people from more than thirty different countries and says Maine has accepted individuals from more than thirty different countries over a forty-year span.

Mills cites Maine’s “workforce shortage” which she says is “projected to grow worse over the next decade” as a reason for the resettlement.

“It is the right thing to do, and it is critical to the strength of our economy and our future success as a state,” says Governor Mills in the letter.

In 2019 Portland, Maine’s largest city, was overwhelmed with immigrants from the southern border. While some had entered the United States legally, immigration officials said many had not. The influx of hundreds of non-citizens strained city resources and blew the city’s local non-citizen welfare budget in months.

In response, Governor Mills used the emergency powers of her office to implement a rule change to provide state funded welfare benefits to non-citizens, essentially bailing out Strimling and Portland.

Mills also sent nearly $200,000 to Maine Housing to provide emergency housing for some of those non-citizens, a move that left some of Maine’s homeless residents feeling left behind.

After all that, Governor Janet Mills signed the letter calling for refugee resettlement program to continue in Maine. The letter is a response to President Donald Trump’s executive order 13888, which requires that states and local governments provide written consent authorizing the initial resettlement of refugees into their respective communities.

The progress of the states is being tracked by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Governor Janet Mills copied Catholic Charities Maine Refugee and Immigration Services on her letter to Secretary Pompeo.

Governors of both parties across the nation have signed on to continue in the refugee resettlement program.

You can read Governor Janet Mills’ letter here:

A review of Governor Mills’ website’s official archive of statements and documents from December found no official public statement or public notice about the letter when it was sent to Secretary Pompeo.

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