AUGUSTA, Maine — The LePage administration says it understands the intent behind bills to bolster residency requirements for welfare programs, but the proposals violate federal regulations.
The bills reviewed by the Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday also generated opposition from the Maine Civil Liberties Union, which called them unconstitutional, and religious organizations, which said they could push the poor into a deeper spiral of poverty.
The bills surfaced as welfare reform looms as a big issue this session and amid anecdotal reports of people migrating to Maine to enroll in welfare. Rep. Richard Cebra says Maine has one of the most lenient welfare systems in the country, attracting illegal immigrants who qualify for welfare benefits.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted at least two cases in recent years in which people with no ties to Maine were transporting illegal aliens to the state to get driver’s licenses, which open doors to government services.