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Gov. LePage ups ante in dispute over welfare payments

PORTLAND (AP) -- Gov. Paul LePage is threatening to withhold General Assistance funding from cities and towns that ignore the administration's policy of denying aid to immigrants who cannot show they're living in the U.S. legally.

Gov. LePage said in a letter sent to all municipalities he expects each "to certify in writing compliance with federal law."

Gov. LePage said a 1996 welfare-reform law prohibits states from offering general assistance to people who cannot prove they're in the U.S. legally unless there's a state law allowing it.

Portland is among other Maine communities that vowed to continue providing General Assistance to asylum seekers and other immigrants without proper documentation.

In fiscal year 2013, Portland received $7.4 million from the state for the General Assistance program.