On Tuesday, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren ruled that the State of Maine does not have to reimburse Portland and other municipalities for General Assistance payments made to asylum seekers.
Last year, Governor Paul R. LePage announced that his administration would no longer provide GA reimbursements for assistance provided to asylum seekers. The governor threatened that any municipalities that provided GA benefits to asylum seekers would risk losing all of their GA reimbursements.
The Maine Municipal Association, largely lead by Portland and Westbrook, spearheaded the attempt to overturn the governor’s policy, filing suit against the administration last July.
The judge, however, ruled against the Maine Municipal Association—stating that the administration did not have to reimburse GA payments made to asylum seekers.
“The people of Maine have spoken out for years against welfare for illegal immigrants, and now the courts have spoken,” said Governor LePage about the ruling. “The only people who still support welfare for illegal immigrants are liberal lawmakers in Augusta who are ignoring the Maine people and refusing to include common-sense welfare reforms in the state’s budget.”
The ruling brings Maine in line with federal law, which prohibits asylum seekers from receiving GA benefits.
Justice Warren stated, however, that the state cannot withhold all GA reimbursements from municipalities who are not complying with federal law. This means that while the state does not have to reimburse cities like Portland for payments made to asylum seeker, it cannot refuse to reimburse the city for GA payments made to non-asylum seekers.
Portland may be the hardest hit by this ruling, as it loses millions of dollars in reimbursements to its General Assistance program.