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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Judicial Watch: California Court of Appeal Orders Governor Newsom to Respond to Judicial Watch’s Petition to Suspend $79.8 Million Cash Benefits to Illegal Immigrants

The court has given Gov. Newsom until June 10 to reply 

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that California’s Second District Court of Appeal has given Governor Gavin Newsom until June 10 to file his opposition to Judicial Watch’s petition for an order pausing the spending of $79.8 million in taxpayer money on illegal immigrants as part of his initiative called the, “Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants Project.” 

Though a lower court found that Judicial Watch was likely to succeed on the merits (that Governor Newsom had no authority under law to spend the money), the court found that there was a public interest in sending tax money to illegal aliens during the coronavirus crisis and rejected a request for a temporary restraining order.

Judicial Watch filed the initial case on behalf of California residents, Cynthia Cerletti and Howard A. Myers against Governor Newsom and Director of the California Department of Social Services, Kim Johnson in order to get a court to declare the initiative unlawful as well as obtain an injunction stopping the spending of this taxpayer money on illegal immigrants (Cerletti et al. v. Newsom et al. (No 20STCV16321)).

The lawsuit alleges that Governor Newsom violated federal law when, without affirmative state legislative approval, he took executive action to create the initiative.  The initiative gives $75 million in cash benefits to illegal immigrants and $4.8 million to private nonprofit organizations handling the distribution of the $75 million.

In their petition for stay, Judicial Watch argues:

[T]he distribution of cash benefits to unlawfully present aliens during the pendency of this appeal also will bring irreparable harm to Petitioners and the public at large – an estimated 40 million Californians, especially during this time of unprecedented need.  Indisputably, the $79.8 million expenditure is an enormous, unprecedented grant of taxpayers’ funds – the lawfulness of which is the very question of the underlying action.

“We hope the courts won’t continue to allow Governor Newsom to ignore the law and spend tax money with no legal authority. Simply put, as one court already seemed to acknowledge, the governor has no independent legal authority to spend state taxpayer money for cash payments to illegal aliens,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Newsom is engaged in an unprecedented scheme to spend nearly $80 million in taxpayer funds. It is urgent the Court of Appeal look favorably upon Judicial Watch’s appeal and halt this abuse pending full consideration by the courts.”

Judicial Watch initially filed this lawsuit on behalf of the California residents on April 29, 2020. On May 4, it filed an application for a temporary restraining order(TRO) halting the initiative’s spending money until the final determination of the case. On May 5, the court denied the TRO, and Judicial Watch sought a Writ of Mandamus from the Court of Appeal, seeking to reverse the trial court.

On May 21, the Court of Appeal denied Judicial Watch’s Mandamus petition, ending that appeal. In response, Judicial Watch filed a notice of appeal to start a new appeal from the trial court’s denial of its TRO application.

On May 29, in connection with its May 21 notice of appeal, Judicial Watch filed a petition for a Writ of Supersedeas (a request for stay) as well as an immediate stay of the initiative. The Court of Appeal denied the request for immediate stay but order the California DOJ to file any opposition to Judicial Watch’s petition for a stay by June 10.

On May 19, Fox News reported that California started the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants Project allowing undocumented immigrants to, “apply for the state’s coronavirus relief program that will pay $500 per person and up to $1,000 per household…”. They added that California currently has about “2 million undocumented immigrants” and that, “the fund could hit $125 million, which would include $50 million from donations.”

In a separate Judicial Watch taxpayer lawsuit, a federal court just ruled that a Montgomery County, MD, program that provides $10 million in cash payments to illegal aliens likely violates federal law and irreparably harms county taxpayers. The court ordered the county to hold back 25% of any unspent funds until the court can fully consider the merits of Judicial Watch’s taxpayer lawsuit

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