Plan to cut off General Assistance worries immigrants and advocates

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The LePage Administration is moving forward with its plan to cut off general assistance funds for undocumented immigrants, even though Maine's Attorney General has determined the change is unconstitutional.

Advocates and immigrants have fought against the plan since it was first unveiled earlier this year. They fear hundreds of new immigrants will lose their benefits for housing and food.

This week DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said her department will move forward with the plan by sending out notices to municipalities. She said in a release "If municipalities choose to offer assistance to illegal, undocumented immigrants, they will do so without state funding support".

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine is watching the situation closely. If there are signs the plan has be implemented it would likely file a lawsuit on behalf of the immigrants.

"The ACLU of Maine is very concerned about this. If the governor or commissioner can simply make a rule without any process, that's dangerous for everybody in Maine", said the ACLU's Zach Heiden.

Maine's Attorney General says the change goes beyond the department's authority. Janet Mills says for the rule to be enforceable it must be approved by her office.


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