Santa Clara County announced plans to sue President Donald Trump over his crackdown on so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that protect immigrants from deportation.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors authorized County Counsel James Williams to file a lawsuit seeking to block a fiat that appears to violate the state rights provision of the U.S. Constitution. News of the impending legal volley comes days after POTUS, by executive order, threatened to withhold federal funding from cities and counties that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
The county relies on about $1 billion a year in federal funding for critical social services, including healthcare, nutrition and other programs for the poor. That’s about 16 percent of the county’s overall budget and a third of its general fund.
— Santa Clara County (@SCCgov) January 27, 2017
San Francisco, one of about 400 sanctuary cities and counties in the U.S. and 40 in California, filed a similar lawsuit earlier this week. As did Trump’s old stomping grounds, New York City, which joined forces with the ACLU to challenge the president’s directive.
Santa Clara County’s sanctuary policy prevents local law enforcement from complying with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention requests. The local law was designed to keep families together and assuage fears in a community with one of the nation’s largest populations of foreign-born residents.
Last month, the county began taking steps to prepare for Trump to fulfill his campaign promises to “build a wall” and criminalize immigrants and refugees. Supervisors created a Federal Legislative Advocacy Task Force to keep the board up to speed on anticipated federal policy changes. It also drummed up a plan with its Office of Immigrant Relations to inform residents in multiple languages about their rights and where to find legal help if they face deportation.
“We have known of Trump’s immigration plans for months now … [and] have moved to build our own institutional walls to protect the interest of all of our residents, including those without proper documentation,” Supervisor Dave Cortese said. “We will assess the impact these orders will have on our county and residents, but note that we will not back away from a legal fight if we must.”
Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2017
Litigation over Trump’s sanctuary city edict comes amid widespread outrage, activism and condemnation over other orders to expand a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, ban refugees from certain Muslim-majority nations and bar even legal permanent residents from entry into the U.S.
Though San Jose has not officially declared itself a sanctuary city, Mayor Sam Liccardo and police Chief Eddie Garcia made a public commitment that local law enforcement will refuse to enforce federal immigration orders.
“Nothing about the president’s executive order will change how San Jose cops police our city,” Liccardo said. “We need to ensure that all residents feel comfortable calling 9-1-1, reporting crimes, coming forward as witnesses and testifying in court to help us keep criminals off the street.”
San Jose received about $78 million in federal funding this fiscal year, according to budget documents. City spokesman David Vossbrink said he doesn’t expect any immediate loss of funding.
“I think we all can expect a long a complicated and expensive period of challenges from various cities and states before there is any clarity or impact,” he told San Jose Inside.
Trump has also threatened to cut federal cash flow over issues other than immigration and residency status. In a tweet from his personal Twitter account this morning, the president suggested withholding federal funds from the state’s public universities after protests at UC Berkeley over right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’ scheduled appearance on campus. Though it’s unclear whether Trump plans to make good on his threats, they certainly have a chilling effect and cast uncertainty on the future of funding for vital public services and institutions.
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
The South Bay chamber of commerce, which rechristened itself the Silicon Valley Organization, said Trump’s immigration orders alone would devastate the economy.
“[E]conomic freedom is imperative to long-term business attraction, retention and growth, and that nowhere is that more pronounced than throughout Silicon Valley,” organization CEO Matt Mahood said. “We support federal policies that allow employers to compete in the global marketplace, and that includes access to the best talent and innovative thinking from around the world. Further, we support policies that promote the openness and inclusion that have come to define our region and make it the world’s economic engine.”
Earlier this week, California’s Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye announced the creation of a Immigration Information Resource Workgroup to link residents with immigration resources.
“We all deserve access to our civil and constitutional rights,” she said in announcing the new work group, “and a critical part of that process is having access to the information necessary for us to exercise those rights.”
Meanwhile, state legislators have advanced a bill that would make the entire state a sanctuary for unauthorized immigrants. The proposed law introduced by Senate President Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) would prohibit state and local agencies—including schools, health facilities and courthouses—from spending money to enforce federal immigration laws.
Attorneys, lawmakers and civil rights advocates have been calling on Trump to reverse course on his draconian immigration policies instead of meaningful reform.
“Our outdated immigration system has hobbled our economy, but these executive orders will not give us the smart, balanced immigration system we need,” Sophie Alcorn, treasurer of the Silicon Valley American Immigration Lawyers Association, wrote in a prepared statement. “In California, these policies will mean families torn apart and local law enforcement hampered. That’s not good for our country or the immigrants who call America home.”
I’ve seen firsthand the contributions immigrants have made in CA, including entrepreneurs who are integral to the success of Silicon Valley — Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (@RepAnnaEshoo) January 26, 2017
Congressional representatives Ro Khanna (D-San Jose) and Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto)—both from immigrant families—lambasted the president’s nativist decrees.
“Tonight, I stand on the steps of the Supreme Court of our nation to condemn the president’s appalling, un-American, unconstitutional executive order,” Eshoo declared at a rally in Washington D.C. “As a first-generation American, I will give everything I have in this fight to reverse the nightmare being inflicted on innocent people.”
We must always build bridges, not walls. — Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) January 30, 2017