Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
48 Cities & Counties Ask Federal Judge to Reject Government Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Cases Seeking To Block the Trump Administration’s Threats Against Sanctuary Jurisdictions

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, CA — (BusinessWire) —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.


Dean M. Harvey
(415) 956-1000 or
Partner, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
San Francisco, CA