PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine is home to thousands of refugees who are looking for a safe place to live. The directors of two federal agencies are in Maine to hear their concerns.
Eskinder Nagash, the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and Larry Bartlett, the Director of Refugee Admissions traveled to Portland to meet with city officials, service providers, and members of the refugee community. They heard concerns about a number of issues, including access to healthcare, the cost of adult education, and the need for better records on the refugees in the city. Bartlett says this year his office brought 58 thousand refugees to the United States. Maine receives only a small percentage of all the people coming to America but they represent a significant percentage of the state's population.
"We have a regular program working with, in this case the Catholic Charities, to resettle people to Maine directly from overseas," Bartlett said. "And then there's also the people who, once they arrive in the U.S.and really are free in some cases for the first time, can move wherever they would like. So we know Maine has actually enjoyed quite a bit of secondary migration and frankly I think it's mostly word of mouth, and I think people in Maine should be proud that it's such a welcoming community and a welcoming state."
Nagash and Bartlett will meet with city officials in Lewiston Wednesday.