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Beware of the California Alligator

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

One of the cruelest things about a widespread crisis is that it brings out grifters of the worst kind. Gasoline price gougers and telemarketers who prey on seniors are some well-known culprits. But these miscreants are just the bottom feeders in the swamp.


The big predators are the politicians, those who target not thousands of dollars but millions and billions from the public treasury to fund their radical agenda items. During our nation’s coronavirus emergency, the alligators have identified themselves clearly.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced a plan to distribute $125 million to illegal aliens living in the state as relief assistance during the pandemic. While Newsom predictably wraps the program in humanitarian benevolence, an objective assessment reveals it as yet another brazen move to use taxpayer money to feather one’s own political nest and weaken the country on a number of levels. 

One of the biggest challenges in curbing illegal immigration has been turning off the magnet that lures foreign nationals to break our laws in order to get here. That is why there is an effort to implement e-Verify to reduce the hiring of illegals. If life in America has high value, so too should American citizenship.

The Newsom plan devalues the pursuit of being an American citizen. If illegal aliens can get public assistance just as easily as legal residents, where is the incentive to pursue legal citizenship? There is none. Perhaps if coronavirus aid was only available to legal residents, those living here illegally would return to their homelands and stay there or apply for U.S. residency legally. California is rewarding illegal behavior, which only guarantees that more of it will follow. 


Prior to coronavirus, America’s economy was humming and near full employment. That is no longer the case. Newsom is actively encouraging more illegal immigration at a time when Americans are either unemployed or fearful of losing their jobs. American citizens should be the first and only priority for any aid distributed by the government. They should also be able to seek work without being undercut by illegal aliens willing to be exploited for substandard wages. Politicians cannot claim to be concerned about Americans who have lost their jobs while at the same time enabling more illegal immigration. They are lying about the former and showing their support for the latter. 

Their flowery rhetoric aside, supporters of aid-for-illegals programs often stand to benefit personally from their advocacy. California has the highest alien population of all states with more than 3 million. By directing state money to illegal immigrants, Newsom is pandering to a growing demographic of non-citizens that he is wagering—probably correctly—will be a powerful voting bloc for himself and his party in the near future. 

Newsom hailed the aid program as only requiring a $75 million public outlay, with the remainder coming from a group of left-leaning philanthropic organizations. They include the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, created by Facebook founder and anti-borders plutocrat Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. The Silicon Valley millennial magnate has been an outspoken advocate for H-1B worker visas, which allow his company to hire foreign workers at a discount compared to their American competition. Blurring the distinction between citizen and non-citizen through aid-for-illegals will only serve to help reduce labor costs for employers in myriad industries.


Such programs also increase the tension in a growing standoff between states and the federal government over illegal immigration. Governors like Newsom and New York’s Andrew Cuomo are openly defying federal law with their support for sanctuary laws. By virtue of the Constitution’s supremacy clause, however, the federal government has authority over immigration law, not states. 

Yet, activist governors and mayors challenge attempts by the Trump administration to enforce the supremacy clause on issues including sanctuary laws, the public charge rule, construction of a border wall and others. Despite their hostility to federal laws, these confederate politicians file lawsuits demanding the flow of federal money into their states continue unabated. State leaders cannot pick and choose which federal laws they choose to obey. That does not make for a “United States of America,” but a loose coalition of nation-states with a patchwork of laws and little connective tissue holding them together. Who would want to live in such a dismal place? 

As California has been under the iron first of one-party rule for several decades, Newsom is unlikely to pay a political price for his audacity. That should not be the case in states where politicians have to earn their votes by way of good governance. Aid-for-illegals is sold to the public as Good Samaritanism, but only hurts those expected to pay for it.    


Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institutea public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.

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