This article from the Portland Press Herald uses the case of Burundian Alain Jean Claude Nahimana, seen in the video below, to illustrate Portland is home to an increasing population of asylum seekers, who must prove that persecution in their home country is enough to warrant protection from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“Nahimana belongs to a new wave of immigrants – people from central Africa seeking asylum because they fear for their lives in their native countries. It is the fastest-growing immigrant group in Portland.”
The article, written in April 2012, says that the majority of Maine’s asylum seekers come from Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC.
An October 2011 article from the Press Herald stated that asylum cases have spiked in Portland in the past few years. The Portland-based Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project saw an over 400 percent increase for asylum assistance between 2009 and 2010.
Given the recent violence in the DRC, requests for asylum will only increase. I recommend you read Tom Bell’s article, which covers the process for and trends of asylum seekers in Maine as well the politics behind asylum funding and protection from the state and federal government.