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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Some of Maine's largest cities have announced they will defy the LePage administration's latest attempt at welfare reform.

DHHS has notified municipalities that they should stop giving undocumented immigrants general assistance - or forfeit welfare reimbursement from the state.

City leaders in Portland and Westbrook said Saturday they will ignore the change and continue providing assistance.

During a press conference Saturday morning, Westbrook Mayor Colleen Hilton and Portland Mayor Michael Brennan joined immigrants and advocates to reject Governor LePage's proposal to deny general assistance to undocumented immigrants.

Mayor Brennan's position was good news for refugee Sauvis Furaha and her four children seeking asylum from Burundi. Furaha said general assistance is providing housing for her family while she waits for work authorization.

"Ending general assistance for refugees will leave many families homeless," said Furaha.

The Governor said Friday that he will deny welfare reimbursement to municipalities who provide assistance to undocumented immigrants.

South Portland, Bangor and Lewiston have also vowed to continue providing General Assistance to asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants.

"I took an oath of office to adhere to the Constitution of the United States and to the state of Maine, and Federal Regulation require us to notify ICE when we had illegals. I will help them to get legal if that is necessary. I took the opportunity to adopt someone. It took me 10 years to get them a green card. I understand the system.
But that doesn't give anyone the right to jump the fence and ask him to pay for his livelihood."

South Portland, Bangor and Lewiston have also vowed to continue providing General Assistance to asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants.

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