LEWISTON — Mayor Robert Macdonald released a statement Tuesday evening blasting protesters in Portland who oppose efforts by Gov. Paul LePage to cut General Assistance to asylum-seekers and undocumented immigrants.

“The governor’s actions were labeled ‘morally indefensible’ and ‘unconscionable’ by church leaders,” Macdonald said.

“Is it also morally indefensible and unconscionable to increase the burden on Lewiston’s already overburdened taxpayers?” he said.

Members of the immigrant community and their advocates gathered Saturday in Deering Oaks Park to protest LePage’s mandate to cut all General Assistance reimbursement to communities that provide that assistance to refugees, asylum-seekers and undocumented immigrants, according to a Bangor Daily News report.

The mayors of Portland, South Portland and Westbrook have said they would not comply with it, in part because Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has determined it is illegal and unconstitutional, according to the BDN report.

Macdonald took aim at those mayors in his Tuesday release.

“If the affluent communities of Portland, South Portland and Westbrook elect to continue to help the illegal population, that is their choice,” Macdonald said. “In Lewiston, we choose not to spend our sparse and dwindling tax revenues aiding lawbreakers.”

He added, “Instead of trying to thrust the financial burden associated with caring for these illegal aliens on the backs of cities and towns, it’s time for these church groups to practice their Christian beliefs and care for our illegal population.”

Macdonald said that 18 months ago, Lewiston city officials met with members of the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program. At that time, Lewiston was told it was not under any obligation to help asylum-seekers, Macdonald said.

“Perhaps the nasty rhetoric could be directed to the federal government who informed us outright that we had no obligation versus the governor of Maine who is trying to bring us into compliance with federal law,” Macdonald said. “Clearly, this would be a nonissue if federal immigration officials were enforcing our federal laws.”

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