Judicial Watch Victory: Federal Court Rules Montgomery County, MD, Program to Provide Cash Payments to Illegal Aliens Likely Violates Federal Law and Causes Irreparable Harm to Taxpayers
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that a federal court ruled 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 (Bauer et al. v. Elrich et al. (No. 20-cv-01212)). The court denied Judicial Watch’s request for a temporary restraining order.
This action comes in a lawsuit on behalf of Montgomery County taxpayers Sharon Bauer and Richard Jurgena, originally filed on May 8 in Montgomery County Circuit Court, which Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and Raymond Crowel, director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, subsequently removed to federal court. The lawsuit seeks to permanently enjoin Elrich and Crowel from expending taxpayer money on the cash-benefits program known as the “Emergency Assistance Relief Payment Program” (EARP). Payments under EARP would amount to $500 per single adult, $1,000 per family with one child and $150 per additional child, up to a maximum of $1,450 per family.
Under federal law, certain categories of aliens, including unlawfully present aliens, are ineligible for state or local public benefits. Such benefits include direct, cash payments. If a state chooses to provide such benefits to unlawfully present aliens, it must enact a state law affirmatively providing for such eligibility.
Judicial Watch argues EARP violates federal law because the Maryland State Legislature has not authorized Montgomery County to provide these benefits to unlawfully present aliens. Therefore, Elrich and the County Council overstepped their authority when they created the program. The Montgomery County DHHS has stated that “unlawfully present aliens are eligible to apply for and receive cash payments.”
The court agreed with Judicial Watch, ruling that:
Based on an analysis of the federal statute alone, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits.
Although the court denied a request for a temporary restraining order it ordered that that county retain at least 25% of any unspent funds until the court could fully consider the merits of the case.
“This court ruling pushes back on the abuse by county officials who want to send taxpayer coronavirus money to illegal aliens in violation of federal law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The coronavirus challenge doesn’t give politicians a pass to violate the law. If politicians want to use tax money from law-abiding taxpayers and send cash payments to illegal aliens, they must be accountable and transparent, and, as federal law requires, pass a state law to do so.”