48 Cities & Counties Ask Federal Judge to Reject the Government Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Cases Seeking to Block the Trump Administration’s Threats Against “Sanctuary Jurisdictions”

Diverse Coalition of Jurisdictions Says President Trump’s Executive Order Threatening Withholding of Funds is Unconstitutional

SAN FRANCISCO--()--The following was issued by Lieff Cabraser on behalf of the coalition:

Forty-eight cities and counties across the country are asking a federal court to reject the Trump Administration’s efforts to dismiss cases seeking to halt President Trump’s Executive Order that threatens the withdrawal of federal funds from so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The coalition filed an amicus brief in San Francisco federal court today to support the cases filed by the County of Santa Clara and the City and County of San Francisco, explaining that the Executive Order is unconstitutional and that the public will suffer irreparable harm unless the court leaves its preliminary injunction in place. The cases, County of Santa Clara v. Trump, Case No. 5:17-cv-00574, and City and County of San Francisco v. Trump, Case No. 3:17-cv-00485, are currently pending before the Honorable United States Judge William H. Orrick.

Today’s coalition of concerned local governments appear as amici curiae (“friends of the court”). The cities and counties argue that the Executive Order impermissibly intrudes on the independence of local governments by threatening to withhold funding authorized by Congress if they do not follow the President’s unilateral instructions. They say that the loss of funding would risk public health and safety, and would shift the federal government’s unpaid tab to local residents. Some amici, for example, have concluded that victims of domestic violence or witnesses to crime will leave crimes unreported rather than risk going to local authorities if they face a risk of detention by federal immigration authorities.

Notably, the coalition includes many cities and counties who do not consider themselves to be “sanctuaries,” but who nevertheless agree the Executive Order is unlawful and unconstitutional. All amici agree that local authorities, not distant federal officials, should be making policy judgments that affect the interests and safety needs of their local communities. Local governments 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. Because of their crucial role and on-the-ground experience, they, not the President, should decide how to deploy their limited resources.

The coalition’s brief asks the Court to deny the government defendants’ motion to dismiss and maintain the injunction against enforcement of the Order nationwide, not just in the County of Santa Clara and the City and County of San Francisco, because a cut in funding to one city or county results in greater burdens on the services provided by nearby jurisdictions, and increased risks to public safety broadly. While the amici are not parties to this litigation, they believe that their combined experience and position will aid the Court in coming to a just constitutional ruling.


“Today, 48 diverse cities and counties from across the country, representing over 26 million people, stood up against President’s Trump’s unconstitutional attempt to force them to become agents of the federal government,” said Dean Harvey, Partner of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann and Bernstein, LLP, counsel for Amici. “President Trump cannot threaten to withhold unrelated and Congressionally-authorized funding to cities and counties that disagree with him on how to spend their own scarce resources.”

“The City of Chicago is and will remain a welcoming city, and we strongly support the legal challenges to the Trump Administration’s unconstitutional attempt to have local police enforce federal immigration law,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “That effort is counterproductive to the efforts of local governments to be inclusive in their policies and their policing, which in our experience is the best way to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.”

The cities that have joined the amici coalition are:

Albany, New York

Austin, Texas

Berkeley, California

Cathedral City, California

Chelsea, Massachusetts

Chicago, Illinois

Chula Vista, California

Cincinnati, Ohio

Davis, California

Denver, Colorado

East Palo Alto, California

Gary, Indiana

Ithaca, New York

Jersey City, New Jersey

Lansing, Michigan

Los Angeles, California

Madison, Wisconsin

Menlo Park, California

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Morgan Hill, California

New Haven, Connecticut

New Orleans, Louisiana

Newark, New Jersey

Oakland, California

Portland, Oregon

Princeton, New Jersey

Providence, Rhode Island

Sacramento, California

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Salinas, California

Salt Lake City, Utah

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Monica, California

Seattle, Washington

Somerville, Massachusetts

Syracuse, New York

Tucson, Arizona

Union City, New Jersey

West Hollywood, California

The counties that have joined the amici coalition are:

County of Alameda, California

Cook County, Illinois

King County, Washington

County of Los Angeles, California

County of Marin, California

County of Monterey, California

County of Santa Cruz, California

County of Sonoma, California

Travis County, Texas

Copies of the briefs are available online. Read a copy of the June 28, 2017 Santa Clara case brief or read a copy of the June 28, 2017 San Francisco case brief. Briefs were previously filed in the County of Santa Clara’s lawsuit on March 22, 2017 and the City and County of San Francisco’s lawsuit on March 29, 2017.


Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Dean M. Harvey, 415-956-1000

Release Summary

48 Cities/Counties Ask Federal Judge to Reject Gov't Motion to Dismiss Cases Seeking To Block Trump Admin’s Threats Against “Sanctuary Jurisdictions”


Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Dean M. Harvey, 415-956-1000