Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud supports the position of allowing illegal immigrants to continue to receive welfare in Maine.
Michaud, a U.S. congressman who has represented Maine’s 2nd district since 2003, is in line with state Senator Eloise Vitelli, who recently said illegal aliens are entitled to taxpayer-funded benefits.
In June, Republican Governor of Maine Paul LePage issued a directive for local governments to stop providing welfare to illegal immigrants, or face having their state funding withdrawn.
At the time Rep. Michaud said he agreed with cities like Portland, Maine, which vowed to defy the Governor’s order, and continue allowing illegal aliens to receive benefits. Portland disburses approximately $215,000 each month in welfare payments to individuals not eligible to receive them.
"Portland, South Portland and other cities say they will defy the directive because state law refers only to financial need and such a policy change should be made through the Legislature," the Portland Press Herald reported.
Michaud "did not directly answer" whether illegal aliens should receive benefits, but condemned the Governor’s efforts.
The Democrat "criticized LePage for ‘over-simplifying a complex matter’ and supported the position staked out by Portland and other cities," the Press Herald said.
Michaud also said stopping illegal aliens from receiving welfare payments puts local communities in an "untenable position."
"They do not have the resources to scour their local communities to determine everyone’s immigration status," he said. "With that in mind, I do not believe they should have to choose between providing financial services to those living in their communities, and facing financial repercussions from the state for doing so."
The Michaud campaign did not respond to requests from the Washington Free Beacon to clarify his stance on whether illegal immigrants should receive taxpayer-funded benefits.
The issue reappeared on Monday when the Republican Party of Maine released a video of Democratic state Senator Eloise Vitelli saying she supports using taxpayer dollars to provide welfare benefits to illegal immigrants.
"This represents a disturbing trend of liberal politicians expressing a willingness to allocate scarce welfare dollars away from needy Maine citizens and beleaguered Maine taxpayers in order to provide welfare benefits to people who are here illegally," said Maine Republican Party Chairman Richard Bennett. "Republicans support the responsible use of taxpayer dollars to help Maine citizens who are truly in need, especially seniors, disabled people, children, and single mothers."
"It’s clear that up and down the ticket, from gubernatorial candidate Michael Michaud to State Senator Vitelli, Maine Democrats are out of touch with voters on the issues of welfare reform and immigration policy," he added. "Maine’s welfare system is broken and Gov. Paul LePage is fixing it, but the job is not done yet. We must continue on Gov. LePage’s path of welfare reform if Maine is to prioritize its tax dollars and break the cycle of inter-generational welfare dependency."
The LePage administration said preventing non-citizens from receiving benefits would save at least $1 million a year. The Governor has also defended his position as simply "enforcing federal law."
"I have always said Maine’s safety net should help our most needy citizens," LePage said in his weekly radio address on June 24. "These vulnerable Mainers include the elderly, children, disabled and mentally ill."
"Illegal aliens who choose to live in Maine are not our most vulnerable citizens," LePage said. "We need to take care of Mainers first. I think most Mainers would agree."