Maine’s Largest City Cuts Spending in Dispute over Immigrant Aid

Dave Sherwood, Yahoo! News, November 13, 2014

Maine’s largest city has begun clamping down on spending as newly re-elected Republican Governor Paul LePage makes good on a campaign promise to cut funding to cities and towns that give aid to undocumented immigrants.

In an internal memo released on Wednesday, Portland city officials said they had frozen hiring and cut travel and overtime spending after their requests for reimbursement from the state for assistance provided to families with children in emergencies had gone unanswered since July.

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“We just don’t have that kind of money sitting around, so we need to act prudently,” said city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin. “We’re in a holding pattern until we receive some kind of official response.”

Tea Party-backed LePage, who was re-elected last week with a strong mandate to reform the state’s welfare system, had threatened in June to cut funding to municipalities that give state-reimbursed general assistance to undocumented immigrants.

“Tell your city councilors and selectmen to stop handing out your money to illegals,” LePage said in a radio address.

Portland does not distinguish between documented and undocumented residents, and has argued state law forbids them from denying aid to residents in need, a position backed by Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat.

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LePage contends he is enforcing an 18-year-old federal law that supersedes state law.

The feud will likely be resolved by courts.

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