I’ve joined the ONE campaign to fight extreme poverty, and I am writing after the recent visit to Portland by Anne Richard, assistant secretary of state. She oversees the State Department’s refugee program as head of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

On this occasion, she said, “We couldn’t do it without these partner agencies,” referring to Catholic Charities and their commitment to helping newly arrived immigrants to Portland (“Refugee resettlement on agenda for State Department official’s visit to Portland,” Feb. 21).

Last month, Mayor Michael Brennan pleaded with the governor, “Don’t deny General Assistance to asylum seekers.”

What will happen in places like Portland if the Catholic Church and other charities like it use their resources elsewhere?

Approximately 1 percent of the U.S. budget is used to support the poorest in the world. While recent statistics claim that one in four Maine children are hungry, I would assert that many of these children, if living in Portland, are those from refugee, asylum-seeking and newly immigrated families. We are not disconnected from strife around the world.

Please contact your representatives to ask that they increase federal aid to help the poorest in the world. When the phone starts ringing and door knocking begins next fall in advance of Election Day, please ask what plans these candidates have to address the issues of absurd poverty around the world before it is on your own doorstep.

Michelle Amato


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