April 30, 2020—Today, the Center for American Liberty, in coordination with the Dhillon Law Group and on behalf of plaintiffs Benitez and Martinez, responded to Governor Newsom’s opposition brief in the case of Benitez v. Newsom.
On April 22, 2020, the Center for American Liberty filed a writ with the California Supreme Court challenging Governor Newsom’s illegal allocation of $75,000,000 in cash payments to undocumented aliens in lieu of unemployment benefits. The California Supreme Court then asked Governor Newsom to respond promptly to the writ.
On April 28, 2020, the Governor responded filing a preliminary opposition to our writ.
Today, the Center for American Liberty replied, reminding the Court that while California law allows for non-cash disaster relief aid to undocumented immigrants, current law doesn’t provide for cash payments, whether through a nonprofit as the Governor has announced, or directly. Contrary to the Governor’s position, SB80 never authorizes or even mentions the possibility of cash gifts to undocumented immigrants.
Without a demonstration of legislative intent, the Governor’s attempt to provide cash gifts to undocumented immigrants is an unconstitutional gift of public funds,” said Harmeet K. Dhillon, Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Liberty. “The Governor cannot read intent into statute that is clearly not there. At best, the legislature intended to create a mechanism to provide in-kind assistance to individuals in California, including undocumented individuals. Cash payments to unidentified nonprofit in an attempt to get around what is clearly the legislature’s intent is illegal under federal and state law.”
“I think it is especially telling that in the Governor’s opposition, he cites to cuff comments made by one legislature after the passage of SB80. It is well-settled law in California that cuff comments not made during or prior to the passage of legislation cannot be used to show legislative intent,” commented Dhillon.
“The bottom line is that Governor Newsom thought he could get away with ignoring California law by giving away Californians’ taxpayer dollars to undocumented immigrants. These payments are for the purpose of extending unemployment benefits to undocumented immigrants, which is illegal in California, and under federal law,”concluded Dhillon. “We hope that the California Supreme Court will act to agree that taxpayer dollars may only be spent in a manner consistent with California Constitutional, and state and federal law. While the COVID crisis is pressing at multiple levels, it does not justify suspension of state and federal law.”
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