Santa Clara County Announces Intent to Sue President Trump over ‘Sanctuary City’ Order

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. This Santa Clara County taxpayer hopes Trump wins. They are already spending too much money defending the illegals who are depressing wages in my industry.
    It is amazing really, when a UC Berkeley poll shows 74% of Californians do not agree with sanctuary policies. Why don’t our politicians listen to US?

  2. First, your lawsuit is frivolous, second it won’t pass demurrer and thirdly you will knowingly rip off the taxpayers with bloated legal bills like the , the SJPD,their lawyers and the City and it’s outside law firm did over Measure B. Everyone got ripped off and settled leaving us 7 million poorer. This is a con for votes and riches. When Trump said there was voter fraud he meant San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. All with Mexican election control.

  3. I would love to see all our scofflaw politicians and bureaucrats frog marched of to Ft Leavenworth.

    Stop with the lie’s Jennifer no one is after immigrants or refugees, illegal immigrants and those that have been caught breaking other laws, like murder, rape, drunk driving, child molesting, drug and human trafficking, prostitution.

    Do you really thing this country, state, county, and city need this kind of criminal scum influencing our elected officials.
    Jail them and get them or outta here!

  4. They have so much extra tax money now that they can waste it in a frivolous lawsuit against the federal government?? Why, when other cities are doing exactly the same thing? How is that kind of pointless political grandstanding not a deliberate waste of taxpayer money?

    And there’s NOT ONE WORD in this article about the millions being negatively affected by this accelerating tidal wave of illegals. All we get is the usual leftist pablum that’s being spoon-fed to the public 24/7/365+++.

    Let’s cut to the chase: there are lots of citizens of foreign countries who are here illegally. That’s a fact. They knowingly break the law every day they’re here. What should we do? Here are some random choices, from one extreme to another. Take your pick:

    • Allow anyone who comes here to stay for as long as they like. Their families can follow later.

    • Have repeated ‘amnesties’ that make everyone here illegally into legal citizens. One amnesty every 5 – 7 years should be sufficient.

    • Control our borders. Build walls where necessary. Require verification of legal residency in order to be hired by the government, or by any company that has done business with the government.

    • Delete all citizenship rolls. Require all residents to apply for the appropriate card: a simple ID, like a drivers license. Or the holder of a Green Card or HB-1 visa. Or like most folks, a U.S. Citizen; ‘Eligible To Vote’ card. Then re-populate the voter rolls with verified citizens only. Finally, use only paper ballots—no more electronic voting machines.

    Me, I like the last one. YMMV.

  5. The big media lie continues! Jennifer you damn well that they are not targeting anyone already here that has not committed a serious crime. We need ICE detainers on all felons, period. What part of that is so difficult for your liberal mind to grasp? Stop hiding behind your true anti Trump agenda. Yes you and the media suck!

  6. California legislators don’t have to listen to us, except for a few Republicans, they own the government and can do what they want. Secondly, ‘Sanctuary Cities’ are not a right, nor are they under protection of the Constitution, or voted in by the public.

  7. Gale Stroud, retired Sheriff’s Office (1991); I am disgusted with City, County and State;s actions taken on this issue.. I hope they get it shoved where the sun don’t shine.. What in Hell has this country become..?? Where in the book does it say (do not) enforce the LAW..??

  8. > 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.

    Mayor Sam Liccardo and Chief Eddie Garcia are human trafficking enablers.

    They, along with the government of Mexico and California Democrats are morally culpable for the horrific, tragic deaths of 10 illegal immigrants who roasted to death in the back of a truck in San Antonio.

    Illegal immigration into the United States could EASILY be resolved and tragedies like this prevented IF progressives would allow for sensible guest worker policies and STOP LOOKING AT ILLEGALS as cheap votes for Democrats and clients for the Democrat/big government welfare state.

    Bloody Liccardo. Bloody Garcia.

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