Dozens of asylum seekers from African nations are being housed at the Portland Expo. The arrival of the asylum seekers caught the city off guard.
Portland officials said it is a very fluid situation and it was completely unexpected, but they worked fast to create an emergency shelter at the Expo Center.
About 100 asylum seekers are staying there and hundreds more could be on the way.
The South Portland City Council will meet Thursday night to discuss whether the city can assist Portland with the asylum seekers.
Portland city officials said most of the asylum seekers are from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, crossing into the U.S. in San Antonio, Texas, and were sent to Maine.
Officials said they are welcoming the asylum seekers, and that the Expo can hold up to 600 people, complete with beds, showers and meals.
The city spent most of the day Wednesday setting up cots and preparing.
With this being a very unexpected and dire situation, the city is looking to other communities and the public to offset the unexpected arrival.
“To lessen the impact on the city budget, but this is an emergency situation. Setting up a shelter to address the influx of asylum seekers coming to our city is critical for us. So, it’s not a budget issue for me, it’s something we need to do and are doing,” Portland City Manager Jon Jennings said.