BC-US--Trump Country-Refugees and Resentment,ADVISORY, US

Editors/News Directors:

We call your attention to a story from "Trump's America" that is available for use at any time.

In the past 16 years, Androscoggin County, Maine, and the once-dying mill town of Lewiston have been transformed by 7,500 African immigrants who fled turmoil to start over again in the whitest state in America. This working-class community is one some have pointed to as proof that refugee integration can work. The immigrants helped revive a place struggling to find its economic footing, opening shops and restaurants in boarded-up storefronts. Their children led the high school soccer team to win the state championship — a moment heralded as a triumph of cultural cooperation. One local said that when outside news crews come to tell the story of how refugees have changed this place, "they're always amazed that there's nothing bad to print."

And yet, for the first time in three decades, voters in Androscoggin County chose a Republican for president, endorsing Donald Trump's nativist zeal against the very sort of immigrants who share their streets and their schools. Some talk openly about their indignation toward immigrants, built on the belief that they take more than they give. Others sigh and hesitate, afraid to seem racist or indifferent to the pain and poverty of others. Many echoed one native Mainer: America is struggling, and needs to take care of its own before it takes care of anyone else.

Efforts to curb the flow of refugees and illegal immigrants into the U.S. have consumed much of Trump's presidency so far, but what lies behind the fervor fueling those actions? Associated Press journalists visited Androscoggin County to explore that question, and found a community still in transition, caught between tolerance and resentment.

A package of text, photos and video — part of the AP's ongoing coverage of America in the era of President Donald Trump — was sent on Wednesday, April 19, and is available for publication.

In addition, an alternate version in vignettes format, called Trump Country-Voices on Immigration, also is available.

TRUMP COUNTRY-REFUGEES AND RESENTMENT

LEWISTON, Maine — Richard Rodrigue stood in a banquet hall, watching his blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter mingle among her high school classmates. The teenagers hail from a dozen African nations, and fled brutal civil war, famine, oppressive regimes to find themselves here, at a pre-prom fete in this once-dying New England mill town. Rodrigue sees value in that: "It will help her in life. The world is not all white." His working-class community, found in the whitest state in America, is a place some point to as proof that refugee integration can work. Some 7,500 immigrants have come over the last 16 years, and Rodrigue credits them with helping to plug a population drain, for opening businesses in boarded-up storefronts. But he also agrees with Donald Trump that there should be no more of them, at least not now. For the first time in 30 years, voters in Androscoggin County chose a Republican for president, endorsing Trump's nativist zeal against the very sort of immigrants who share their streets and schools. Their community has been an experiment in immigration and all that comes with it — friendships, fear, triumphs, resentment — and Trump's presidency marks another chapter in that struggle for the American soul. By Claire Galofaro. 2,800 words. With Photos, Video.

Also available: Trump Country-Voices on Immigration, a story in vignettes format with photos. 1,199 words sent on Friday, April 21.

The AP