Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lewiston, Maine

Lewiston is a rural mill town in Central Maine. Several years ago, Somalis throughout the United States got word that Lewiston offered a combination of good schools, plentiful housing, and generous welfare benefits. And the influx began. The Mayor has asked Somali leaders to stop bringing in additional immigrants as the City’s budget is buckling under the pressure of the largely unemployed Somalis. New arrivals are still arriving weekly.

I was in Lewiston today and offer these images and observations:

Downtown is pretty much written off. Dozens of building sit vacant. The Pizza Hut is shut down.

The nicest building in town is the State of Maine Health and Human Services Building. Watching the front door for a half an hour, the Somali count was approximately twelve, or more than one of our Muslim friends every three minutes:

Several work crews were noted. Jobs included paving preparation, water and sewer maintenance, and the construction of a new structure. All workers were Caucasian, each paying over 8% of their income to the state of Maine in order to support it's entitlement programs.

Somalis like the City’s park. They tend to group themselves and remain stationary.

Most head scarves were the colored kind. Only two of the women wore the straight black burkas.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Yup, that's about it. I live in Portland, ME where just as many Somalis live. But I guess that could be expected since this is a port city and has lots of other immigrants. They're working for the most-part. Not sure what the ones in Lewiston are doing to keep themselves busy though. Not entirely sure what Mainers are doing in Lewiston to keep themselves busy for that matter.