Maine group to sue state over illegal immigrant benefits

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The controversy over cutting off General Assistance benefits to illegal immigrants is apparently heading to court.

The group that represents Maine towns and cities said Monday it will file a lawsuit against the state over the policy change ordered several weeks ago by the LePage Administration.

Immigrant advocates and leaders of Maine's larger cities have been protesting the order, saying it will force hundreds of immigrants to become homeless with no money for rent or food.

The LePage Administration says it is simply following a 1996 federal law ordering no benefits for illegal immigrants.

The Maine Municipal Association says the state should have held a public hearing and followed other steps before making such a dramatic change in the law, and says the suit will be about failing to follow proper procedure - not the pros and cons of providing benefits to illegal immigrants.

Maine's Attorney General, Janet Mills, says she believes the Governor's policy change could violates the Constitution.

The LePage Administration says it disagrees with the Attorney General. As a result, the Maine Municipal Association says towns and cities are very confused about what they should be doing with General Assistance.

Maine Municipal says it will also seek outside legal advice about how that 1996 federal law – part of the Clinton Administration welfare reform plan – applies to Maine.


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