Here's a little more info:A Maine state agency is ordering localities not to use state dollars to provide assistance to undocumented immigrants, the Portland Press Herald reported.
The state department of health and human services, overseen by Gov. Paul LePage (R), is advancing its plan to stop state support even though the state's Democratic attorney general said last month the move would be unconstitutional, according to the newspaper.
The policy change affects the state's General Assistance program, which "provides benefits to families with children in some situations when the family is threatened by destitution or homelessness due to an emergency situation," per Maine HHS. - TPM, 6/13/14
Here's why LePage's move is illegal:DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said her department will notify municipalities of the change this week, and the change will be made immediately. The General Assistance program is run by cities and towns, with funding from the state.
“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,” Mayhew said in a prepared statement.
Mayhew said the new enforcement will affect about 1,000 people and save the state more than $1 million a year.
Mayhew said, “If municipalities choose to offer assistance to illegal, undocumented immigrants, they will do so without state funding support.”
Most of the people who will be affected live in Portland, said Mayor Michael Brennan.
“It’s a stunning development by the department,” he said late Wednesday. “It’s just another way to make an end run around the Legislature and the rules-making process. In Portland, it is going to impact hundreds of people, who will be left homeless and without food.”
Brennan, a former state legislator, said such a significant change in General Assistance regulations requires legislative review and public hearings.
In Portland, an applicant for General Assistance must demonstrate only a need for a place to live and food to eat. The city doesn’t look at a person’s immigration status, Brennan said.
Mills questioned the move by the DHHS, calling it unconstitutional and an unfunded state mandate on cities and towns. She said she isn’t sure how a city or town clerk will be able to determine whether someone is an illegal immigrant.
“You can’t make every town in Maine a mini immigration office,” Mills said. - Portland Press Herald, 6/12/14
LePage is in serious trouble this year and this is just one of final FU's. We need to make sure our base comes out and elects Mike Michaud (D. ME) this year. Click here to donate and get involved with Michaud's campaign:Mills on Wednesday said her office had not seen or approved any new rule and that DHHS was attempting to create law with press releases.
“They haven’t asked us for any guidance,” she said. “From the reading of the press release, it sounds like a very political act, and an end run around the Constitution. This would have significant practical and legal issues.”
Those issues include how clerks should determine which immigrants are “illegal” — which most municipal clerks are not trained to do — and how the department intends to define the population they’re looking to exclude from receiving state funds. Mills also doubted the claim by DHHS that the rule change will save the state $1 million.
“I don’t believe there’s any statutory authority for them to do what they’re doing,” she said. “The appropriate thing to do would be to respect there are three branches of government, not one. Assuming there’s merit to the idea, put it to the Legislature, put it to public hearing, to debate and discussion with full transparency. … Instead, they wait until the Legislature’s gone and do something by press release.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, which opposed the initial proposed rule change, called the action by DHHS “shocking.”
Zachary Heiden, ACLU of Maine’s legal director, pointed to Maine’s Administrative Procedures Act and said the department simply had bypassed the legal process required to implement a change in General Assistance eligibility requirements.
“This rule is illegal. It can’t go into effect. The department or agency simply has no authority to create a rule outside this process,” he said. “I’ve never seen something so flagrant.” Bangor Daily News, 6/12/14