The Biden Administration issued a memo on March 31 to city officials in Portland, Maine, instructing them on how to accommodate the arrival of busloads of foreign national migrants delivered from the southern border, according to a copy of the “Migrant Busing Toolkit for Receiving Cities” obtained by the Maine Wire.
“The Biden Administration is committed to ensuring that city, county, and state governments are prepared to receive migrants who are bused to their jurisdictions from the southwest border,” the Biden Administration memo states.
“The Administration is marshaling all available federal resources to cities already accepting migrants, and actively helping local officials and non-government organizations (NGOs) in those cities to coordinate migrant intake, shelter, care, and transportation,” the Biden Administration states.
“Because cities may see these buses arrive suddenly and without notice, the Administration has drafted the following best practices to help those governments prepare for a sound response,” the memo states.
It’s unclear when the memo was created — it’s dated only 2023 — but the Biden Administration sent it sometime this year to the city of Portland.
The city of Portland provided the memo to the city of Sanford last week after Sanford was “overrun” with migrants seeking housing and benefits.
Several cities in southern Maine are dealing with a humanitarian crisis as the arrival of thousands of unemployed and homeless migrants has stretched municipal budgets and emergency sheltering arrangements to the breaking point.
Sanford City Manager Steve Buck told the Maine Wire more than 100 individuals have arrived in Sanford over the past two weeks seeking shelter and benefits.
Some of those migrants came to Sanford after two unnamed Sanford residents went to Portland and recruited migrant families to come to Sanford.
But others have said they arrived in Sanford directly from Portland International Jetport, many of them with few belongings other than what they could carry in a plastic shopping bag.
That raises the question of who arranged for and paid for the airfare and the transportation from the airport to Sanford?
The circulation of a White House memo advising cities on how to deal with precisely the circumstances Sanford is now dealing with strongly suggests a federal agency has facilitated the arrival of migrants in Maine.
The memo instructs municipal leaders to “establish contact” with the Biden Administration’s White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) as well as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to inquiries about DHS’s role in transporting migrants to Maine. The Maine Wire has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to DHS to obtain public records that may shed light on their potential role in transporting migrants to Maine.
“While receiving cities and states will confront different challenges and require different resources, this toolkit provides four approaches for receiving governments to consider, and offers concrete steps they can take to implement each,” the memo states.
The memo seems to drastically underestimate the scope and duration of the problem. The Biden Administration said in the memo that cities should plan to initially house migrants for 1-3 days in temporary shelters, then “plan longer-term shelter options” because federal reimbursement will end after 30 days. The memo also says cities should turn migrants over to the state agencies.
But here in Maine, cities like Portland and South Portland have been dealing with the migrant crisis for going on four years and there’s one obvious problem with following the Biden Administration’s checklist: there is no available housing. Even the temporary arrangements at hotels and motels have, in some cases, lasted nearly three years.
With Thursday’s suspension of Title 42 — a policy that allowed federal officials to turn migrants away at the border for public health reasons — the flow of migrants across the southern border is expected to increase substantially. As many of the migrants currently in Maine crossed into the U.S. at the southern border first, Maine officials — including those in Sanford — are expecting no end to the influx of migrants seeking General Assistance benefits, shelter, education, and health care.
Here’s the full memo: