OAKLAND, CA – The City of Oakland, and other local jurisdictions across the country, have joined together to challenge the president’s Executive Order 13768, which threatens to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary” cities and counties.
The coalition of 34 jurisdictions, including Oakland and the cities of New Orleans, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, filed an amicus brief (“friend of the court”) Wednesday in the lawsuit County of Santa Clara v. Trump, Case No. 5:17-cv-00574, which was filed on February 3. The lawsuit seeks a nationwide injunction that would prohibit enforcement of Executive Order 13768.
Some of the amici consider themselves to be “sanctuary cities” or “sanctuary counties,” while others do not. All agree that the Executive Order is unlawful and unconstitutional on its face.
Fundamental constitutional principles establish that cities and counties have no obligation to enforce federal laws; that is the federal government’s job. Yet, this Executive Order seeks to coerce local jurisdictions into becoming agents of the federal government by threatening to withhold funding Congress has authorized, resulting in increased local public health and safety risks and a massive transfer of unreimbursed federal expenses to local jurisdictions.
“This Executive Order is just one example of the heartless, lawless and unconscionable policies of the new administration,” City Attorney Barbara J. Parker said. “At this point, only sixty two days into this administration, it should be crystal clear to Americans in every state, including many who voted for Trump, that this president is a vindictive, morally corrupt and unstable person who is unfit to hold our country’s highest and most powerful office. The promise to defund child care, housing, medical and other vital programs of sanctuary cities like Oakland that adopt common sense law enforcement policies would undermine public health and public safety, making our communities less safe.”
Sanctuary city policies help police to solve and prevent crimes by allowing undocumented residents to cooperate with law enforcement and act as witnesses without fear of deportation. For example, victims of domestic violence and witnesses to crime will be less likely to report to police who might turn them over to federal immigration authorities.
Sanctuary polices have other benefits outside of law enforcement, for example, health epidemics could go untreated if large groups of residents fear deportation when they seek treatment at public hospitals.
All of the 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 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,” said Kelly Dermody, Managing Partner of the San Francisco Office of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann and Bernstein, LLP. The firm is assisting on the case.