Maine governor puts squeeze on welfare, immigrants

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine cities and towns are being forced to choose whether they will continue providing benefits only to people who can prove they are living in the U.S. legally — or lose all state funding for welfare programs.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who was homeless as a boy, says his new directive will preserve assistance for the neediest and bring the state into compliance with federal law.

But opponents say he's pitting have-nots against other have-nots by feeding into fear of immigrants.

Local officials and municipal groups say they're in a precarious position. If they deny the benefits, they risk lawsuits from immigrants. And if they provide the benefits, they could lose millions of dollars in state funds for the general assistance program and have to turn others away.

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