The California Supreme Court has denied a Republican-led effort trying to block a new, $125 million fund in the state that will assist undocumented residents who’ve been excluded from novel coronavirus pandemic relief. This is the second court defeat that opponents of the public and privately funded Disaster Relief Fund have faced in as many days in their effort to deprive immigrant families of basic dignity.
“A Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday similarly rejected a request from the conservative group Judicial Watch to stop the program,” KPBS reported, a right-wing group founded by Larry Klayman, “a pathologically litigious attorney and professional gadfly notorious for suing everyone from Iran’s Supreme Leader to his own mother,” the Southern Poverty Law Center said.
The fund, announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month, is a mixture of private donations and public funds that will distribute payments of up to $1,000 to thousands of families who were blocked from federal relief due to their immigration status. “Newsom said that the disaster assistance program would be jointly funded by the state, to the tune of $75 million, and philanthropic partners, who will donate $50 million,” The Sacramento Bee reported at the time.
Judicial Watch sued just days after Newsom’s announcement, “asking for a judge to determine after a non-jury trial that the payments are an illegal expenditure of taxpayer money,” NBC Los Angeles reported. “They also want a permanent injunction issued preventing taxpayer money from being made available to ‘unlawfully present aliens’ … The plaintiffs say they will suffer ‘substantial, irreparable injury’ if a restraining order is not granted.”
The only folks actually at risk of “substantial, irreparable injury” are people like domestic workers, farmworkers, restaurant and hospitality workers, and mixed immigration status families who are suffering due to the economic hit that’s followed this pandemic and are deserving of the same assistance any other family might be getting right now.
“Every day I wake up and worry about what will happen the next day, the next week,” Melissa, a domestic worker in Florida, said after she was fired from her job of one year. She hasn’t been alone: 94% of respondents from a recent survey of domestic workers said their clients canceled on them due to concerns about COVID-19. Many, like Melissa, are now panicking about food and housing security, because 77% say they are their household’s primary breadwinner. Thankfully, fundraisers and funds like the one in California can play a critical role in filling the void left by the federal government.