Update December 29th: Be sure to see Daniel Greenfield’s article on Somalis and welfare in Maine at Frontpage magazine.
In 2009 we wrote a post which has become one of our most-visited posts at RRW (Tenth most visited with 9,088 views). It is entitled, ‘Somali Migration to Maine: it’s the welfare magnet, stupid.’ I’ve wondered since then what Maine was doing with its giveaways that made it so attractive. This article in ‘The Portland Daily Sun’ gives us some hint.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a rule change to bring Maine’s welfare program in line with federal guidelines that require 5 years of residency before a legal immigrant (non-citizen) can access the program and of course a legal outfit is challenging the proposed rule. (Refugees get welfare right away, see our ‘fact sheet’ for more on how that works).
The Portland Daily Sun (emphasis mine):
A legal advocacy group has warned city and state officials that a proposed rule change at the Department of Health and Human Services could cut off benefits to members of Maine’s immigrant population.
Robin Merrill, a senior policy analyst with Maine Equal Justice Partners, met with members of the Portland City Council and the legislative delegation on Monday and talked about a proposed rule change that could cause some members of the immigrant community to lose general assistance.
“This would be devastating for Portland and for Lewiston,” Merrill said.
The rule being proposed by DHHS would block anyone from receiving general assistance if they do not qualify for federal assistance, like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Maine Food Supplement program, because of citizenship status.
The rule change was proposed to align Maine’s public assistance programs with federal ones, according to DHHS, and the federal government does not provide coverage for legal non-citizens until five years after their arrival. The state will no longer fund general assistance for that population, DHHS said, though municipalities may still use their portion to assist them. [Newly resettled refugees get all the available federal government programs right away—ed]
DHHS will hold a public hearing on the rule change on Jan. 10 at its Augusta office, and written public comment will be accepted until Jan. 24.
Here is the website for the Maine DHHS. I did a quick search and didn’t find a reference to this meeting, but if you are a Mainer, and wish to comment, call them!
Related story: Earlier this month Gov. Paul LePage charged that there is extensive welfare fraud going on in Maine, and here a women’s group criticizes the governor for saying such a dreadful thing about poor innocent people in Maine. Just for fun I typed the words ‘Maine fraud’ into our search function and up popped pages of posts with Maine fraud stories—food stamp, medicaid, housing, etc.