HALLOWELL (WGME) — As President Donald Trump looks to remove illegal immigrants from the U.S., some communities are looking to protect them with sanctuary cities.

Officials say there’s a difference between becoming a “sanctuary city and a “welcoming city” and one state representative says she hopes Hallowell will become a welcoming city because she says many of its residents already believe they are.

In downtown Hallowell, diversity is blossoming.

Youssof Zamat immigrated to America 15 years ago from Iraq, later moving to Maine after Hurricane Katrina.

Just last week, he opened up a new Muslim grocery store, officially setting roots in Hallowell.

“It feels great,” Zamat said. “I’m not going to lie, it feels great.”


State & city leaders hope to make Zamat’s dream reality for many more immigrants, by making Hallowell a welcoming city.

State Representative Charlotte Warren says the idea stems from President Trump’s new ban on some immigration, but notes a welcoming city is different that a sanctuary city.

“I had someone specifically reach out to ask about us designating ourselves as a human rights city,” Warren said. “Certainly other folks have talked about many other terms and we decided on welcoming city.”

‘s city manager says this proposal would not protect those here illegally, but for many immigrants they say it’s a step in the right direction.

“I think it’s a great idea to get everyone together and do stuff and just communicate as one person,” Zamat said.

Officials say they hope to have this resolution drafted and in the hands of the city council by mid-February.

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