About the series

A large wave of asylum seekers sought refuge in Maine in 2019, and the state is seeing many more arrive this year. Over 1,000 asylum seekers have come to Portland since January. The city’s shelters are full, temporary housing fills up immediately, and migrants are being put up in local hotels as the region’s ability to assist them has reached an inflection point. The city of Portland, which has long had a policy of welcoming all newcomers, has advised organizations to stop sending asylum-seeking families here because there is nowhere to house them.

Behind this crisis are human lives and powerful human stories – people fleeing from dangerous places and life-threatening situations. Why do they leave the lands where they grew up, enduring treacherous journeys for a chance to start anew? Why do they choose to come to Maine? What are their experiences when they arrive? And what is the state’s capacity and responsibility to assist?

The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram spent several months trying to answer these questions. Six reporters and two photographers – aided by interpreters we hired – spent countless hours with people attempting to settle here and build new lives. Many other journalists – photographers, editors and designers among them – contributed. The result is the six-part series “Long Way Home.”

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