Federal Court Orders Hearing on Judicial Watch Request for Temporary Restraining Order to Prevent Montgomery County, MD from Providing Cash Benefit Payments to Illegal Aliens
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland set a hearing for tomorrow on Judicial Watch’s request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Montgomery County, MD Executive Marc Elrich and Raymond L. Crowel, director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, to stop them from spending $5 million of taxpayer funds to provide direct cash assistance to unlawfully present aliens. On May 8, Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit and the TRO request against Elrich and Crowel. Elrich and Crowel subsequently removed the case to federal court (Bauer, et al, v. Elrich, et al. (Case No. 20-cv-01212)). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two county taxpayers, Sharon Bauer and Richard Jurgena and seeks to permanently enjoin them from expending taxpayer on the program, which Judicial Watch argues violates federal law because it was not authorized by the Maryland State Legislature
The hearing will be held remotely tomorrow, Friday, May 15, 2020, at 11 am.
Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit and application for a TRO after County Executive Elrich on April 15, 2020, referred to a soon-to-be-announced initiative to provide at least $5 million in cash payments to illegal aliens. On April 27, Montgomery County announced in a press statement that “[a]pproximately $2.5 million will be disbursed to residents [by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)] and another $2.5 million will be targeted to individuals and families served by nonprofit organizations in the community.”
On April 30, the County Council released a press statement that the program would be paid for out of the Montgomery County General Fund, which, according the County Operating Budget, is comprised entirely of taxpayer monies. The DHHS website specifies that the payments would consist of $500 for single adults, and up to $1,450 per family. Judicial Watch argues in its complaint:
Under federal law [8 U.S.C. § 1621(a)], unlawfully present aliens generally are ineligible for State or local public benefits.
However, a “State may provide that an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States is eligible for any State or local public benefit … only through the enactment of a State law … which affirmatively provides for such eligibility” [Emphasis added]
The Maryland General Assembly has not enacted a State law affirmatively granting [Montgomery County officials] the authority to provide cash payments to unlawfully present aliens.
The program targets the payments to illegal aliens:
The Montgomery County DHHS has stated that unlawfully present aliens are ‘eligible to apply for and receive cash payments,’ [and] based on the narrow set of eligibility criteria, unlawfully present aliens will be the primary – if not exclusive – recipients of EARP’s cash payments.
In arguing for a temporary restraining order, Judicial Watch points out:
Based on the face of the Complaint as well as the facts identified above, it is likely [Judicial Watch’s clients] will prevail on the merits. The Maryland General Assembly has not affirmatively enacted a law authorizing Defendants [Montgomery County officials] to provide cash benefits to unlawfully present aliens as part of EARP, as required under 8 U.S.C. § 1621. Nonetheless, Defendants intend to provide such benefits to unlawfully present aliens starting in May 2020. Plaintiffs also can demonstrate that they and all Montgomery County taxpayers will suffer immediate, substantial, and irreparable pecuniary harm as soon as Defendants illegally spend the $5 million of taxpayer monies.
“Montgomery County Executive Elrich and the Montgomery County Council have no legal authority on their own to spend taxpayer money for cash payments to illegal aliens,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The coronavirus challenge doesn’t give politicians a pass to violate the law. If they want to give cash payments to illegal aliens, they must be accountable and transparent, and, as federal law requires, pass a state law to do so.”
In a similar case (Crest et al. v. Newsom et al. (No. 20STCV16321)), Judicial Watch on April 29, sued the Governor of California on behalf of two California taxpayers for overstepping his authority and violating federal law when he attempted to go around the California State Legislature by executive action and spend $78 million to provide direct case payments to illegal aliens. Judicial Watch separately filed for a temporary restraining order to prevent the State from spending any money on the governor’s initiative, and is continuing to pursue this case.