LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Weeks after the Department of Health and Human Services notified municipalities that the state will no longer reimburse them for welfare given to undocumented immigrants, many cities said they would ignore the policy. Lewiston was on the fence, but now mayor Robert Macdonald says the city backs the LePage administration on its decision.
This year the number of asylum seeking families in Lewiston has doubled, and the city has spent $762-thousand on general assistance. Macdonald says they can't afford it.
He says the city will stop paying benefits for undocumented immigrants because it's unfair for the taxpayers and those who worked hard to become legal citizens.
Attorney General Janet Mills has questioned whether this DHHS directive is legal. She says if cities follow the new policy, they could face lawsuits for denying assistance, but if they don't follow it they will be penalized financially and forfeit state reimbursement.
The Maine Municipal Association has said it will file a lawsuit against the state over the policy change.