City officials have completed analyzing data in order to determine how many asylum seekers would be ineligible based on the State’s new guidance, but eligible for the Council-adopted Community Support Fund. This fund seeks to provide assistance to existing asylum seekers in Portland for one year.
The recent Press Herald article was overstated and did not substantiate any numbers regarding the number of people who are actually ineligible by the State now that Governor LePage has directed DHHS not to reimburse for asylum seekers. It is important to note that the reimbursement of asylum seekers was a practice that was accepted for years, including all four years of the Governor’s first term.
“Based on the information in our database, we’re comfortable that the numbers below are accurate at this time,” said Jon Jennings, City Manager. “However, this information changes daily as each case is unique and the road to asylum is anything but linear. The next steps are to determine whether there are individuals who are currently GA eligible, but during the course of the next 12 months will become eligible for the Community Support Fund, and then project an annualized cost of benefits which will inform the Community Support Fund program guidelines.”
Based on the Community Support Fund as passed by the City Council, for the month of June, there were 483 households, representing 779 individuals deemed to be ineligible based on the State’s guidance. Of those, there were 336 households, representing 545 individuals, who have provided documentation of their application for asylum and are eligible for the Community Support Fund.
There were another 76 households, representing 123 individuals who have not provided documentation of their application, but have been in the United States less than 1 year. This is significant because immigration law gives individuals one year to apply for asylum, despite the fact that visas are valid for a maximum of 6 months.
There were 7 households, representing 25 individuals, that include 12 children born in the United States. While the heads of household and some siblings are ineligible, the 12 children are GA eligible.
Lastly, there were 64 households, representing 86 individuals who have been here more than one year and have not sought asylum. As these individuals come to the City’s Social Services Department, they are being told that they are ineligible for benefits unless they can produce documentation of their immigration status, either a valid visa, asylum application, legal permanent resident card, or other documentation.