Judicial Watch sues California's Newsom in push to stop coronavirus stimulus from going to illegal immigrants

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A conservative legal group announced Tuesday that it is suing California Gov. Gavin Newsom over plans to pay $75 million in cash payments to aid illegal immigrants amid the coronavirus crisis.

Judicial Watch said it filed a petition for a temporary restraining order to prevent Newsom and Kim Johnson, the director of the California Department of Social Services, from moving forward with the plan.

"The governor has no legal authority on his own to spend state taxpayer money for cash payments to illegal aliens, and coronavirus doesn’t give him or any other politician a pass to violate the law," Tom Fitton, the firm’s president, said in a statement.

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Last month, Newsom announced plans to shore up $125 million to aid undocumented immigrants living in his state. Taxpayers would kick up $75 million while the rest would come from a group of charities. California has around 2 million illegal immigrants.

“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportations that are still addressing essential needs of tens of millions of Californians,” said Newsom at the time of his announcement.

Under his plan, 150,000 illegal immigrants would receive a one-time cash payment of $500, with a cap of $1,000 per household.

Illegal immigrants were not eligible for the $2.2 trillion stimulus package that provided up to $1,200 in cash payments each for adults and $500 per child to weather the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

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Some 1.2 million American citizens were also denied stimulus payments because they jointly filed with a spouse who has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number. A federal class-action lawsuit was filed this week against the Trump administration over the matter.