Paul LePage and Laura Ingraham claim that Portland’s decision to welcome asylum seekers is a mistake. We can say confidently that they are wrong.

At Greater Portland Family Promise, we serve families experiencing homelessness by providing shelter, food, case management and community support. Through a network of 28 faith communities and 730 volunteers, we work with the city to take families in shelter overflow into our program. Most, but not all, of these families have been newly arrived immigrants. From our perspective in working daily with asylum seekers, we know that immigrants are wanted and needed in our city.

Paul LePage does not speak for us here in Portland. We see firsthand the enthusiasm with which our community opens its arms to welcome our new neighbors. We see faith communities open their doors to shelter families, volunteers eating dinner with immigrant families, playing with their children, moving them into apartments. We witness the connections that are fostered between new immigrants and native Mainers.

At Greater Portland Family Promise, we know that immigrants are a source of vitality and strength in our community. During their time of need, when they require systems of support for shelter and other basic needs, we believe this is an opportunity for our community to practice compassion, hospitality and grace. It takes support for these new neighbors to become established here in our city, but our community members do it because they and we know it is worth it.

Our asylum-seeking neighbors are a gift to members of this community and to the city as a whole. Those touting the idea that these newcomers are a drain on our resources seek to breed fear, guardedness and a closing of our doors. We will not let these words divide us, but will continue to use radical hospitality to remind our neighbors that they are welcome.

Sara Ewing-Merrill

executive director

Courtney Tabor

associate director

Greater Portland Family Promise

Portland