MEXICO – Work is under way on a letter targeting Gov. John Baldacci’s 2004 order that prevents state agencies from asking immigrants their status before granting benefits.

Former selectwoman Monique Aniel and Town Manager John Madigan are expected to complete the draft on Wednesday, Feb. 6, and present it to selectmen for approval and signatures.

Pending little or no alteration, the town will send its second letter in three years, asking Baldacci to rescind the order.

Aniel, who pushed for both letters, says she worries that the order makes Maine into a sanctuary state for illegal aliens.

“In a state like ours, with 25 percent of Maine’s population on welfare, with a $95 million budget shortfall and being in debt, I think we should not be seen as a sanctuary state,” Aniel said at the board’s Jan. 23 meeting. “The executive order sends the wrong message and should be rescinded. In a post-Sept. 11 world, that is a dangerous policy.”

Mexico selectmen wrote to the governor in May 2004, stating that his executive order “could potentially expose the state to situations where safety could be in jeopardy, notwithstanding that it violates federal law.”

The order grants access to state services to all entitled residents regardless of background or status.

According to Mexico’s 2004 letter, federal law notes that unless a state has passed a law specifically designed to prevent agencies from ascertaining the status of immigrants, no state or municipal benefit can be given to undocumented aliens.

At the board’s Jan. 23 meeting, Aniel said Baldacci responded to the first letter. However, she said she couldn’t find a copy of it for selectmen, who sought to learn what his response was before voting to send a second letter.

“This issue is bigger than any of us realize,” Madigan said during discussion.

“It takes a pebble to make a big ripple,” resident Betty Barrett replied. “We’ve got to start somewhere.”

Selectmen agreed, voting 3-0 to have Madigan and Aniel draft the letter.

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