"Undocumented illegal immigrants do not qualify for State General Assistance support."
*AUGUSTA* - The Maine Department of Health and Human Services continues to move forward to enforce elimination of State government support for undocumented, illegal immigrants in the General Assistance program. The State is notifying municipalities of this shift in enforcement protocol later this week, with implementation to begin immediately.
"We are moving forward and will continue our efforts to align programs with federal rules to ensure that precious taxpayer dollars are used appropriately for those in need and protected for those who are legal residents of Maine and this country," said DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew. "Federal law clearly points out that unless a State has adopted and approved a statute that allows for this benefit to be provided to these populations, it is against federal law to provide them. Maine does not have any provision in state statute that grants such a provision." The federal law reads as follows: "A State may provide that an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States is eligible for any State or local public benefit for which such alien would otherwise be ineligible under subsection (a) of this section only through the enactment of a State law after August 22, 1996, which affirmatively provides for such eligibility." 8 USC § 1621 (d) - (d) State authority to provide for eligibility of illegal immigrants for State and local public benefits. "We must continue to do all that we can to protect Maine's limited resources and ensure that benefits are provided to those who qualify for them and who are in this country legally," said Commissioner Mary Mayhew. "If municipalities choose to offer assistance to illegal, undocumented immigrants, they will do so without State funding support."
Although the Department will take steps to ensure State taxpayer dollars are not spent on illegal aliens, cities and towns have the option to use their own funds to serve this population. For individuals eligible for General Assistance, the State will continue to fund 50 or 90 percent of a municipality's costs, depending on the funding formula. The larger cities, like Portland, Lewiston and Bangor, for example, receive 90 percent of their funding from the State.
According to current program participation, this enforcement will save the State more than $1 million and impact roughly 1,000 illegal aliens. Last month, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills ruled that the administration's initial proposal to deny General Assistance aid to a broader group of individuals violated the equal protection clauses of both the state and federal constitutions, leading the Department to propose enforcement solely against those present in the country illegally.