Maine governor’s effort to cut welfare to asylum seekers/other migrants stymied

Maine has a reputation in the country (and probably in Africa too!) as the go-to state for welfare benefits before one is even a legal resident.  In fact, it is the welfare magnet that brought the first of what is now tens of thousands of Somalis to Maine.  (Click here for one of our most-read posts about Maine the welfare magnet).

Maine Somali community organizers: We want our welfare! Photo: Bangor Daily News

On Friday, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills ruled that it would be unconstitutional for Maine to disallow social services to those seeking asylum or generally illegally in the state.

Keep in mind that federal laws do not give benefits to asylum seekers UNTIL they have been granted legal asylum status.  Just because one says one is seeking asylum that does not give them the rights of legitimate ‘refugees.’   Maine has been giving benefits to one and all, thus the flood of migrants to Maine.

The fiscally conservative governor has been trying to stem this budget-bleed since he took office in 2011.

Here is the latest at The Bangor Daily News (emphasis is mine):

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has ruled that a proposal by Gov. Paul LePage to bar immigrants and asylum seekers from receiving General Assistance is illegal and unconstitutional.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew reacted with dismay and said she will continue to pursue implementation of the rule.

The proposed new rule, which was unveiled late last year by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, was meant to align qualification for the state’s General Assistance program with other public assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In essence, the proposal would block anyone from receiving General Assistance until they receive full U.S. citizenship.

Mayhew said Friday in a written statement that she has revised the rule so that only illegal immigrants — and not legal noncitizens — would be barred from the General Assistance program.

Lewiston, the Somali capital of New England, is one of three migrant-overloaded cities in Maine.

The rule would allow towns and cities to continue to provide the benefit, which is intended as an emergency measure to help individuals and families through financial crises, but without any financial support from the state. In most municipalities, the state pays 50 percent of the benefits, though there are three cities — Bangor, Portland and Lewiston — where state support ramps up to 90 percent after local spending reaches a certain threshold.

General Assistance cost the state and local municipalities a total of $12 million in 2013 and provided an average benefit of $966 to approximately 12,000 people. About 64 percent of that cost was in the immigrant-heavy cities of Bangor, Lewiston and Portland.

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