- Associated Press - Thursday, July 10, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The Maine Municipal Association and two Maine cities filed a lawsuit against Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration on Thursday over its policy prohibiting cities from providing general assistance benefits to some immigrants.

In the lawsuit, filed in Cumberland County Superior Court, the group asked the court to void LePage’s policy and declare that cities and towns don’t have to comply with it. The lawsuit argues the administration didn’t go through the rule-making process in arriving at the policy.

The Department of Health and Human Services has warned cities and towns that they will lose all state funding for the general assistance program if they continue to provide aid to immigrants who can’t prove they are living in the U.S. legally.

LePage’s administration has said the new policy will bring the state into compliance with federal law.

“We believe this is a common sense measure to ensure that state funds are going to help U.S. citizens or those people who are in Maine with documented status,” department spokesman John Martins said in an email Thursday.

The Maine Municipal Association said in a statement that the lawsuit is necessary to determine whether the department’s policy is legally binding. It says that the conflicting opinions cities and towns have received from the state have put officials in an “untenable position.”

Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills has said that LePage doesn’t have the authority to implement such a policy and has warned officials that they could face a lawsuit from immigrants if they follow the LePage directive and deny the aid.