Santa Monica Joins Legal Challenge to Trump’s Threat Against Sanctuary Cities


Via city of Santa Monica press release issued on Wednesday, March 22.

Today, 34 cities and counties across the country, including Santa Monica, have joined together in requesting that the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issue a nationwide preliminary injunction that would prohibit the enforcement of Executive Order 13768 in the lawsuit County of Santa Clara v. Trump, Case No. 5:17-cv-00574. This lawsuit was filed on February 3, 2017, by Santa Clara County, California, challenging the Executive Order which sets forth the Administration’s policy to threaten to withhold federal funds from so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

Today’s coalition of concerned jurisdictions appear in the proceeding as amici curiae (“friends of the court”). Amici argue that the Executive Order impermissibly seeks to coerce local jurisdictions into becoming agents of the Federal Government, by threatening to withhold funding authorized by Congress, resulting in increased local public health and safety risks and a massive transfer of unreimbursed federal expenses to local jurisdictions.

All agree the Executive Order is unlawful and unconstitutional on its face. Contrary to the Executive Order’s directives, Amici agree that local authorities are best positioned to assess local enforcement priorities, weigh the costs and benefits of different options, and make judgments about what will best promote the safety of their communities.

Local jurisdictions are responsible for the health and safety of their residents, from fighting crime and fires, preparing for natural or medical disasters, providing clean drinking water, maintaining streets and sidewalks, removing trash, and building and maintaining parks, among many other public services.  They should decide how to deploy their own limited resources. But a cut in funding to one jurisdiction results in greater burdens on the services provided by nearby jurisdictions.  Therefore, all Amici agree that a nationwide injunction is the only way for the Court to provide complete and effective relief to cities and counties across the United States.

Based on decades of on-the-ground experience, some of the amici jurisdictions have concluded that their mission of preventing crime and protecting victims can be thwarted by certain activities that amount to enforcement of federal immigration laws by local officials, such as collecting and producing information about immigration status from persons who are victims or witnesses of crimes.  As described in the Amici brief, many jurisdictions have received testimony from law enforcement and community partners that victims of domestic violence or witnesses to crime will leave crimes unreported rather than risk going to local authorities who might turn them over to federal immigration authorities.  Health epidemics could go untreated if residents fear interacting with public hospitals. When parts of the community can no longer trust authority, the entire community is less safe.  In addition, the Executive Order provides no funding or reimbursement to local jurisdictions for taking on increased burdens of federal enforcement, meaning local services will be threatened in favor of doing federal immigration work, leaving local jurisdictions in a financial catch-22 of being saddled with federal costs or potentially being denied unrelated federal funding previously authorized by congress.

“Today, 34 cities and counties from across the nation joined together to stand up for the health and safety of their communities and oppose President Trump’s ill-conceived and unconstitutional Executive Order that would require local jurisdictions to perform federal immigration work or risk losing unrelated federal funding,” said Kelly Dermody, Managing Partner of the San Francisco Office of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann and Bernstein, LLP.  “Local jurisdictions are in the best position to set these priorities and they understand that driving some residents underground in fear of any interaction with local authorities makes every resident in that community, and those adjacent, less safe.”

The cities that have joined the amicus are:

Albany, New York
Austin, Texas
Berkeley, California
Chicago, Illinois
Denver, Colorado
East Palo Alto, California
Jersey City, New Jersey
Los Angeles, California
Menlo Park, California
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Morgan Hill, California
New Orleans, Louisiana
Oakland, California
Portland, Oregon
Sacramento, California
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Salinas, California
Salt Lake City, Utah
Santa Ana, California
Santa Clara, California
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Monica, California
Seattle, Washington
Somerville, Massachusetts
West Hollywood, California

The counties that have joined the amicus brief are:

Alameda County, California
Cook County, Illinois
King County, Washington
Los Angeles County, California
Marin County, California
Monterey County, California
Municipality of Princeton, New Jersey
Santa Cruz County, California
Sonoma County, California

A copy of the brief is available on the LCHB website.

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