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Lewiston, Maine -- Mayor appeals to Somalis to stem imigration.
Sun Journal -- Lewiston, Maine ^ | 10/01/2002 | Mayor Larry Raymond

Posted on 10/08/2002 2:43:17 PM PDT by

Mayor Larry Raymond is hoping an appeal to the city’s Somali community will help stem the tide of new residents.

Raymond drafted an open letter to Somali leaders, asking them to pass the word to friends and family outside Maine that Lewiston is full.

“The large number of new arrivals cannot continue without negative results for all,” Raymond wrote. “The Somali community must exercise some discipline and reduce the stress on our limited finances and generosity.”

Local Somalis said Thursday that they wanted to discuss the letter among themselves before they responded to it.

Raymond’s missive was distributed informally around the community, through the city’s Somali Advisory Group. Assistant City Administrator Phil Nadeau said the members of the group, made up of nine Lewiston Somalis, received copies of the letter Wednesday and had begun to hand them out.

“I’ve been sitting on the sidelines, watching this issue develop,” Raymond said Thursday. “I’ve been hoping that the Somalis already here would see that we are getting maxed-out financially, and that they would help spread the word on their own.”

An estimated 1,051 Somalis have moved to Lewiston in the past 18 months, according to city information. In response, the city has increased budgets for local aid, known as general assistance, and for English as a Second Language programs in local schools. More than 200 Somali students have enrolled since the spring of 2001, and most have required ESL instruction. The city budgeted $528,000 for general assistance this year, and expects to spend about $246,000 of it on immigrants.

The number of new Somali applications for general assistance was down for September, Nadeau said. City staff worked with seven new Somali families, a total of 11 individuals, last month. In comparison, the city averaged 14 new families each month this past summer, Nadeau said.

“I started writing this letter when I heard about the September numbers,” Raymond said Thursday. “I’m not sure why they are down, but hopefully there is a realization that we are pretty much maxed. If not – if it’s just a random occurrence – I’m asking for their help. I’d encourage them to discourage more people moving to Lewiston.”

Reaction from the Somali community was cautious. Said Tani, co-owner of the Lewiston Variety Store, said he thought Somali elders and leaders should meet to discuss the letter. Once they did, however, Tani said he wants to meet directly with Raymond.

“Our leaders need to sit with the mayor and find out just what he means,” Tani said. “What he is trying to say, it needs to be expressed better. I’d encourage him to meet with us, so we can really determine what the problem is here.”

Tani said he feels most Somalis in Lewiston do work and are paying taxes – just like everyone else.

“I’d like to see his budget and have him explain his point of view,” Tani said. “Then, I’d like to see our leaders explain our point of view.”

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: imigration; lewiston; maine
Anyone else keeping up with the imigration saga playing out in Lewiston, Maine? Looks like they may be getting a taste of wht we in the border states have delt with for years...
1 posted on 10/08/2002 2:43:17 PM PDT by
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If only the feds were doing their job...
2 posted on 10/08/2002 2:46:03 PM PDT by Slyfox
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I've been reading about this all along. The Somalis are parasites and the taxpaying citizens of Maine, whose community is being changed beyond recognition and taken over, are too polite to call it what it is.
3 posted on 10/08/2002 2:47:23 PM PDT by 3AngelaD
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Maine is a border state.Some years back they were inundated ith drug dealers from the Dominican Republic.They came to Lewiston from a city called Bani.Dying mill towns are prime targets for a silent invasion by aliens because property values are way down and abandoned or substandard buildings are ubiquitous.
4 posted on 10/08/2002 2:48:47 PM PDT by steamroller
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Somali leaders react to Lewiston mayor - Mayors asks them to tell relatives to stop coming to city which I posted the other day also has some details, not as in depth as this and mainly regarding the Somali reaction angle.
5 posted on 10/08/2002 3:04:09 PM PDT by chance33_98
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Apparently, Lewiston has excellent handouts - and word has spread far and wide that it is an excellent place to be those who want to suck at the public teat. According to comments by Neal Boortz, the word is out in the Atlanta Somali community that Lewiston has a great deal going, and bus loads have been heading there for several months.
6 posted on 10/08/2002 3:48:43 PM PDT by Not_Who_U_Think
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To: Not_Who_U_Think
I just caught the story today. The irony of the liberal north-east being caught in this is interesting to watch. Will VT be next? Now that will be interesting...
7 posted on 10/08/2002 3:51:54 PM PDT by
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Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Somalis denounce Lewiston's mayor

By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Portland Press Herald Writer
Also on this page:Adam Mostafa, speaking at a news conference Monday in Lewiston, reads a community response to an open letter last week from Mayor Laurier Raymond. Somali leaders were angered by Raymond's request that they stem the flow of Somalis into the city.

Mayor Raymond's letter to the Somali community

Text of letter from Somali elders


COLUMN: Why is Lewiston waving off Somalis?: American citizens, after all, are free to move to any state in the country.

EDITORIAL: Mayor wrong to send a letter that tells Somalis to stay away: A meeting would have been a better way to discuss shortages.

Closing the door: Mayor's request disconcerts Somalis: Lewiston's Somalis are deciding how to respond to an entreaty that they stop the flow of resettlement.

American Journey is an ongoing series that explores the lives of immigrants moving to Maine. Here are stories examining the new Somali community in Lewiston:

A thousand miles: The people of suburban Clarkston, Ga, reveal why hundreds of Somali immigrants living there are looking north, toward Lewiston, Maine.

An open-door refugee policy has its critics: A reform group in Maine says well-meaning efforts to help may lead to serious social problems.

Lewiston's Somali surge: With jobs scarce and its resources strained, a city built by immigrants braces for the arrival of 1,000 more.

LEWISTON — Leaders of the city's fledgling Somali community called Mayor Laurier Raymond a racist and a bigot Monday for asking Somalis to stop moving to Lewiston from other parts of the United States.

During a news conference, Somali leaders called on Raymond to apologize and to retract a letter he wrote last week asking the estimated 1,060 Somalis who have moved to Lewiston since February 2001 to give the city some "breathing room."

In an open letter of their own, Somali leaders described Raymond as an "ill-informed leader who is bent toward bigotry." They criticized him for failing to meet with them before writing his letter.

They said Raymond would be to blame if some residents in this mostly French-Catholic city saw his letter as license to attack Somalis. They asked police and state officials to guarantee their continued safety as residents of the city.

Standing in a drizzling rain outside a Somali community office on Lisbon Street, a few doors from the city's first Islamic mosque, Somali leaders invited Raymond to meet with them soon to learn more about the people he wants to turn away.

"He is a racist," said Mohamed Dirye, 52, a Somali who moved to Lewiston from Atlanta last December. "The way he is speaking, he thinks he's mayor for only white residents. He's not only their mayor. He's our mayor, too."

Somali leaders said they cannot tell Somalis to stop moving to Lewiston, especially when many of them are family members and friends looking for a better life, and most of them are legal residents or U.S. citizens free to live where they want. Many Somalis are former refugees who fled the clan warfare that has plagued their country for decades.

"We are proud to claim that we are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers of citizens of this city of Lewiston," said Adam Mostafa, 35, who moved to Lewiston in July from Indianapolis with his wife and eight children. "It means this is home."

Raymond did not return telephone calls to his law office or his home on Monday. In an interview Friday, Raymond said his letter speaks for itself and represents the view of many Lewiston residents.

"This large number of new arrivals cannot continue without negative results for all. The Somali community must exercise some discipline and reduce the stress on our limited finances and our generosity," Raymond wrote. "We will continue to accommodate the present (Somali) residents as best we can. . . . Our city is maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally."

Police Chief William Welch said Monday that Somalis will be afforded the same police protection as all other Lewiston residents. He said there have been no reports of attacks or threats made against Somalis since the mayor issued his letter.

"We cannot guarantee them any more than anybody else," Welch said. "If they have issues, we're going to address them."

Welch said he didn't believe Raymond intended to "agitate and incite the local people," as the Somali letter suggests. "I think (Raymond) said what he thought," Welch said. "I'm sure it was agitating to some, and I'm sure there are some Lewiston residents who agree with the mayor. I also have a lot of faith in the people of this community to deal with his letter appropriately."

Some Lewiston residents at Monday's news conference said they welcomed Somalis to the community and denounced the mayor for increasing tensions between newcomers and longtime residents.

"Many of us say, 'Bring your friends. Build your community together,' " said Mark Schlotterbeck, city missionary at Calvary United Methodist Church. "We are all children of the same Creator. Let us share our resources."

Schlotterbeck invited the public to join church members in welcoming Somalis to Lewiston with a "friendship walk" on Sunday starting at 8:45 a.m. from the church on Sabattus Street to the mosque on Lisbon Street.

Somali leaders questioned why Raymond failed to acknowledge the contributions Somalis have made to the city and the federal funding Lewiston has received to help provide social services and educational programs for new immigrants.

While the city's general assistance budget has more than doubled to $528,000 during the past year, about half of the estimated 412 Somali adults living in Lewiston are working. Others are taking college courses or language classes. Three Somali-owned stores have opened in less than a year. Many Somalis live in downtown apartments that once were vacant.

"Our presence has turned Lewiston into a multi-ethnic, multiracial city, which has embraced diversity and change," Somali elders wrote in their letter. "A city of 36,000 people, in the middle of the whitest state in the country, has suddenly become an international city."

Abdiaziz Ali, a Somali who works as a caseworker for the city, said he understands that it is human nature to be uncomfortable with change, and that it will take some Lewiston residents a while to get used to their new neighbors.

But he noted that other immigrant groups are moving to Lewiston in search of lower housing costs, good schools and a small-city lifestyle. Recent newcomers include people from Togo, Sudan, Congo, Morocco and Brazil.

"Is the mayor going to write a similar letter to all these other people and tell them not to come, too?" Ali asked.

Somali leaders said they were most upset because Raymond failed to recognize that many of the Somalis who are moving to Lewiston are U.S. citizens, and 80 percent of their children were born here.

During the news conference, Hawa Kahin held up a photograph of a her 20-year-old son and spoke with a mixture of pride, shame and fear.

Kahin said she is proud that the eldest of her five children, Kader Khalif, is a Marine stationed in Japan, protecting U.S. interests abroad. She is proud to be a U.S. citizen - "I am an American person," she said - who came to this country in 1981. She is proud that her five children were born on U.S. soil.

But Kahin isn't so proud of being a Lewiston resident since she read Raymond's letter. And she's afraid for her children's safety.

"I'm really disappointed with the way the mayor talked," said Kahin, 40, who moved to Lewiston from Atlanta in June. "I'm so ashamed to say to my kids, 'Do not go outside. It's not safe.' "

8 posted on 10/08/2002 5:37:23 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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"Raymond failed to acknowledge the contributions(thru taxes) Somalis have made to the city and the federal funding Lewiston has received to help provide social services and educational programs for new immigrants."..

what outsiders also dont realize is this city has been filled with white "welfare" recipients for years..empty store fronts..old and often run-down tenements meet the eye when you drive thru this blighted city of Lewiston..even the large only off campus(Bates) "great" Book store went out of business..(however Walmart is coming in to save the day!)..Many of these Somlis( and let me explain before you flame me that I would like to see a moratorium on immigration for the most part ) have advanced themselves in a short time more than many of the Lewiston/Auburnites have in picture this Maine community as picturesque .. is not so. Real estate is lower there than most surrounding areas. The mayor the way I see it has done very little for the city and now is enjoying is 15 minutes of fame with this speech..I hate to say it but the Somalia leaders have shown more intellect in response to the Mayor then the Mayor himself in his "letter"and have done more for their advancement since coming here then the Mayor has for his own constituents. (Can't believe I am leaning to the other side on this particular issue and I hadn't always). Maine is between 95-97% white.
9 posted on 10/08/2002 6:05:20 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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Adam Mostafa, speaking at a news conference Monday in Lewiston, reads a community response to an open letter last week from Mayor Laurier Raymond
10 posted on 10/08/2002 6:09:16 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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Open letter to ALL Somalis -- and others wishing to lunch at the welfare teat:

Right now, before you finish reading this, pack up and depart for LEWISTON, MAINE.

If Americans want a microcosm of what will soon happen to this ENTIRE country, let's give it to them.

11 posted on 10/08/2002 6:12:07 PM PDT by Dick Bachert
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To: Slyfox
If only the feds were doing their job...

This is a federally funded program.

12 posted on 10/08/2002 6:16:21 PM PDT by blueriver
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To: blueriver
If only the feds were doing their job...

I meant the INS part of the feds.

13 posted on 10/08/2002 8:30:17 PM PDT by Slyfox
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To: Dick Bachert
youre not looking at a welfare fest here..the ones on welfare in that city are..some of the white constituents..they have opened taxes..and many are already educated coming from other parts of the U.S...This is not an example of immigrants coming over the borders with no skills...I have been told these men and women were screened carefully..not just "anyone" was allowed to be in this program. The mayor is a racist! and the news on this outside of Maine is biased in its reporting I am sad to say.
14 posted on 10/09/2002 7:33:33 AM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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To: fight_truth_decay
Then help me understand why hundreds of Somalis have left the more familiar climate of Atlanta (where I live) and gone to Lewiston, leaving behind the LESS GENEROUS welfare system here?

For the skiing, right?

15 posted on 10/09/2002 8:40:11 AM PDT by Dick Bachert
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