Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine
We Have Responded Valiantly
This chapter presents the version of Lewiston’s story told by city officials who highlight the financial burden on the city of accommodating unexpected impoverished refugees in the context of a retreating welfare state. Officials had to develop programs for refugees that conformed to federal legal requirements for accommodating diversity in the absence of outside financial support and previous experience with managing refugees and cultural difference. Creating an English Language Learner program, translation services, and job training programs while responding to xenophobic outbursts such as an antirefugee neo-Nazi rally challenged city officials and social services providers to model tolerance and accommodation while trying to minimize the impact of impoverished refugees on city coffers.