Providing help and creating hope in Maine
Catholic Charities Home > A-Z Services > Asylum Seekers Hotel Project

Asylum Seekers Hotel Project

Project Overview

In July 2022, Catholic Charities Maine embarked on a new pilot project to support asylum seekers in Southern Maine. Recognizing our 40+ years of experience successfully resettling refugees here in Maine, the State of Maine and the City of Portland asked for our assistance in welcoming and supporting those seeking asylum in the United States and helping to ensure their successful integration into our communities. They are being temporarily housed in a hotel in Saco while the State of Maine identifies housing solutions.

About this Population

The families we serve have undergone long, sometimes arduous journeys from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, and Haiti and had been staying in other Southern Maine hotels run by the City of Portland. When room availability changed, the City proposed this unique pilot project, which places CCM staff on-site in offices at a Saco hotel property the State of Maine secured. CCM will provide services seven days a week to support their integration.

Our services will include:

  • cultural orientation
  • assistance in enrolling in any public benefits for which they are eligible
  • adult and children’s school enrollment
  • support in filing documents to petition for asylum
  • arranging for transportation to access community services
  • connecting with health care services
  • coordinating additional programming with community partners

What is the difference between an asylum seeker, an asylee and a refugee?

An asylum seeker is anyone who has fled persecution in their home country and is seeking a safe haven in a new country but has not yet been granted asylum (sanctuary). Asylum seekers wishing to remain in the United States must file applications within a year of arrival. Under current federal law, an asylum seeker can receive permission to work in the U.S. 150 days after an asylum application is submitted. There is pending legislation (S. 3665) sponsored by Senator Susan Collins in the Senate and by Representative Chellie Pingree in the House (H.R. 6693) to reduce this time to 30 days after an asylum application is filed.

An asylee is an individual who has sought and received protection from fear of persecution by submitting an asylum application to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) and asking to be granted political asylum to reside in the United States. Asylees enter the United States on student or work visas or as undocumented individuals and then petition for asylum and are granted legal status by the U.S. government.

A refugee is any person who is outside their country of origin and unable or unwilling to return there or to avail themselves of its protection on account of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular group, or political opinion, as defined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  Click here to learn more about our work with refugees here in Maine. 

How Can I Help?

Make a Monetary Gift!

To financially support the work we do, you may donate online; you can choose Asylum Seekers Hotel Project as your gift designation from the drop-down menu. You may also mail a check payable to Catholic Charities Maine with Asylum Seekers Hotel Project in the memo line and send it to the attention of the Development Office, Catholic Charities Maine, P.O. Box 10660, Portland, ME 04104-6060.

Contribute Gift Cards!

New arrivals can always use Saco area bus passes, gift cards to Walmart, Hannaford, and other stores where they can purchase hygiene items, clothing for the size and season, and things like baby wipes and formula. Please mail gift cards to: Catholic Charities Maine Attn: Development Office, P.O. Box 10660, Portland, ME 04104. Please include your name and address if you wish to receive a receipt for tax purposes.

Volunteer!

Volunteers are vital to the work we do. Once all the guests are settled (we expect by early October), we will be matching volunteers to the various needs and interests of the families. Please email your name and phone number to [email protected] if you wish to learn about volunteer opportunities with the Asylum Seekers Hotel Project in Saco.

Please check this page often. We are so appreciative of the support and offers of help. We look forward to working with the greater Saco community for volunteer opportunities and in-kind donations soon. We are still in the intake phase of welcoming residents and are are focused on ensuring their basic needs are being met and the necessary enrollments and registrations take place. 

Regarding Guests and Visitors

Please note the hotel is the temporary residence for families, and CCM follows laws and policies to protect their privacy and security.  The hotel is not open to the public, and all service providers, community partners and volunteers who come on-site to provide services must review and complete a Guest Authorization Form upon their first visit.  If a conference room is requested as part of your visit, the space must be confirmed with Staff in advance, as conference room space is limited.