AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Dozens of immigrants packed a public hearing in Augusta to voice their concerns about a proposed rule change that would cut general assistance to more than one-thousand immigrant families in Maine.
The hearing was held this afternoon at the Department of Health and Human Services building in Augusta. Under the department's proposal, immigrants and those with asylum would not qualify for general assistance. The program provides vouchers for rent, food and other basic necessities to help immigrants who are waiting to get their work permits and other immigration papers processed.
Denying immigrants assistance would shift the burden to communities who have large immigrant populations including Lewiston and Portland.
'If this rule passes we will immediately have in the city of Portland, there will be homeless and there will be people without food, hundred and in the course of the year, we will have thousands, said Mayor Michael Brennan.
Immigrant advocates says the proposed rule exceeds the authority of DHHS and the proposal has to be reviewed by Attorney General Janet Mills. DHHS officials were not available for comment.