Alex Millones in a soccer jersey.

CCPA Summer Series 2022: Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition

By Alex Millones ’24

Funding Source: CCPA’s Liberal Arts in the Workplace Grant

This summer, I am participating in a summer internship with the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (MIRC). MIRC is a small immigrant-led non-profit organization in Portland, Maine whose mission is to convene a statewide network of organizations which advocate for the rights of all immigrants in the state of Maine. I chose to intern at MIRC because I strongly value the entire Maine immigrant community. This comes mostly from growing up in Maine and attending high school in Portland, where I was greatly influenced by recent immigrants to Maine. On the more academic side, I wanted to learn how immigrant-related policy and advocacy works both at the grassroots and national levels. I also chose MIRC so that I could live at home and work some days in the office and some days remote.

When I first started at MIRC about two weeks ago, I expected to be working on either advocacy projects that targeted the state’s legislative branch or translating informational flyers on COVID-19 into different languages. While these are certainly possibilities for the remainder of the summer, so far, I have been working on crisis management for asylum seekers in Maine. Maine, along with many US states, is seeing a surge in new immigrants who are asylum seekers. Asylum seekers do not have shelter, legal services, medical care, housing, or food when they arrive in Maine and MIRC has been coordinating efforts to secure these necessities all while continuing its agenda of advocacy. 

One of the advantages of working hybrid is that I am getting experience working with immigrant communities, chefs, cultural brokers, hotel owners, volunteers, and community leaders on a daily basis. I feel that I am gaining valuable experience while doing this. When I am working remotely, I track the movements of asylum seekers around Southern Maine to make sure MIRC can triage information and connect immigrants to the appropriate resources. Other projects I am working on include coordinating efforts to bring asylum seekers legal services through workshops and one on one consultations, and reaching out to cities around the state to arrange for migrant housing. 

Along with MIRC’s other interns, I am doing an extensive research project on asylum seekers in the US and housing availability, which is a major issue right now in immigration advocacy. The research skills I am developing at Haverford are helping me greatly with this ongoing group project. I really enjoy working with MIRC’s small staff because I am getting to know them well and am getting a lot of feedback and trust from them with important projects. 

The nature of the work for the movement is a balance between immediate need and longer-term advocacy, and I appreciate the challenges that come with both. Being flexible with my time is important in this internship because things can change quite frequently. The fast pace and often delicate nature of immigration advocacy work means that taking care of myself mentally while working is super important. I am definitely learning a ton and enjoying my internship so far, and I hope as the summer continues that it will be more of the same with a bit more emphasis on advocacy and policy work as the crises are slowly solved.