Posted on September 26, 2017

Governor Threatens to Remove Maine Sheriffs, Asks ICE to Investigate State’s Immigrant Groups

Kattey Ortiz and Kristina Rex, WCSH-TV, September 26, 2017

Paul LePage

Governor Paul LePage (Credit Image: Wikimedia / Gage Skidmore)

In a radio interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday, Governor LePage revealed he plans to issue an executive order to remove two sheriffs from their duties.


Ingraham asked LePage for the latest on refugee resettlement in Maine. He said refugees were still coming in for a while when he first announced Maine was not going to participate in refugee resettlement during the Obama Administration, but “they’re not now.”


It is not clear whether or not Governor LePage has, in fact, received a complaint from the Cumberland County Commissioners about Sheriff Kevin Joyce.

Joyce announced in a press conference that his department would no longer hold some inmates for immigration agents. Because of this announcement, it is assumed that Governor LePage is talking about Sheriff Joyce when he says there is “one [sheriff] in particular” who he is considering removing from duty.


The LePage Administration told NEWS CENTER no removal proceedings have been initiated yet.

“However, the safety and security of the children, families, and citizens of the State of Maine is the Governor’s first responsibility. As a state established under the authority of the Constitution of the United States of America and of the State of Maine, the State must do its duty and work cooperatively at the federal, state and local level to enforce the laws that maintain our nation’s sovereignty and keep us safe,” Press Secretary Julie D. Rabinowitz wrote in an email.

Rabinowitz then pointed out sheriffs are required by state law to obey all orders relating to law enforcement which they receive from the Governor (30-A M.R.S.A. §401(4).)

She also referred to the provisions of Executive Order 001-2011 LePage signed in January of 2011.


Rabinowitz wrote, “The Governor has the ability to exercise the authority granted to him by Article IX Section 10 of the Maine State Constitution:”

Removal of sheriffs from office and replacement. Whenever the Governor upon complaint, due notice and hearing shall find that a sheriff is not faithfully or efficiently performing any duty imposed upon the sheriff by law, the Governor may remove such sheriff from office and appoint another sheriff.


Sheriff Joyce is also getting support from within the law enforcement community. On Monday, York County Sheriff Bill King posted to Facebook, “I stand with Sheriff Kevin Joyce and will not honor a ‘request’ from the federal government to hold an immigrant without proper documentation. I make no apology for protecting the taxpayers of York County from needless litigation.”

The governor said Maine has had a couple of terrorists and, “I’m not going to stand by and watch them settle in Maine, and do their harm from here in Maine.”

Aside from the two terrorists of 9/11 who flew from Canada to Maine, he provided Adnan Fazeli as an example.

LePage said there are others with suspicions that have been picked up by ICE and are being looked at right now.

“We’ve had our problems,” he said. “We’re a border state and unfortunately, some do come in from Canada and that’s been a problem. Some come by boat. We have 3,600 miles of coastline. It is a problem.”