Skip to content

Santa Clara County has moved for a nationwide injunction against President Trump’s attempt to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The motion is noticed for hearing on April 5, 2017, in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California, located in San Francisco. The brief in support of the motion can be found here.

The Executive Order.

On January 25, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”

Under section 9, “Sanctuary Jurisdictions,” the Order directs the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to:

“[E]nsure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary.”

The Executive Order is extremely broad.

The Order not only directs the Attorney General to take action “against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373” but also any entity “which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.”

The Order is not limited to funding related to immigration or law enforcement, but includes a threat to cut all “Federal grants.”

Santa Clara County Motion To Enjoin The Executive Order.

On February 3, 2017, Santa Clara County filed County of Santa Clara v. Trump, et al, Case No: 5:17-cv-00574-WHO, United States District Court, Northern District of California.

Santa Clara County’s motion for preliminary injunction seeks a “nationwide” order that prohibits the federal government from (1) enforcing Section 9 of the Executive Order, (2) taking any action to withhold federal funds from any “sanctuary” jurisdiction based on the Executive Order.

Santa Clara County’s motion states that the County receives about $1.7 billion in federal and federally dependent funds (about 35% of its total annual revenues).

The County states that unless the Executive Order is enjoined, the County will suffer irreparable harm by being forced to (1) continue to spend money on services “for which it may be denied federal reimbursement tomorrow,” (2) begin “slashing essential services, programs and staff,” or (3) comply with “an unconstitutional directive to participate in the President’s federal immigration enforcement regime.”

Santa Clara’s lawsuit claims that:

1. The Executive Order is an overreach of the executive power of the presidency. It attempts to “exercise spending powers . . . that even Congress could not constitutionally” exercise.

2. The Executive Order would be illegal even under Congress’s spending power, Article I, section 8, because it requires compliance with all federal law without any specificity, applies its conditions to all “Federal grants” regardless of whether they have any connection to immigration, coercively threatens all federal funding, and forces jurisdictions to “detain individuals who would otherwise be released from custody” in violation of the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

3. The Executive Order violates the Tenth Amendment by requiring state and local governments to affirmatively assist federal immigration officials by complying with ICE detainer requests, and take other unspecified actions.

4. The Executive Order violates the Fifth Amendment by being unconstitutionally vague, lending itself to subjective interpretation and discriminatory enforcement, and by depriving the County of funds in violation of due process.

Other California cities and counties will be filing an amicus brief, or providing other support, for Santa Clara County’s lawsuit and motion. For more information contact Jon Holtzman (, (415-678-3807) or Linda Ross (,510-995-5807)