Court Rejects Trump’s Attempt to Halt County of Santa Clara’s Lawsuit Challenging Executive Order on “Sanctuary Jurisdictions”

Photo Credit:

Preliminary Injunction Blocking Executive Order Nationwide Will Remain In Place

 SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – A U.S. District Court reaffirmed its order last week, blocking the Trump Administration’s plan to de-fund the County of Santa Clara and other state and local governments across the nation that it considers “sanctuary jurisdictions.”  The Court denied the federal government’s requests to reconsider the injunction granted by the court in April and to dismiss the case.

“Once again, the District Court has sent a message to President Trump that he cannot use the threat of withholding funds to coerce local governments into becoming federal immigration operatives—an unconstitutional effort that puts at risk vital services for millions of people across the country,” said Dave Cortese, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “We are eager and prepared to pursue the lawsuit on behalf of Santa Clara County residents and communities across the country until the Executive Order is permanently struck down.”

The County of Santa Clara, along with pro bono co-counsel from Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP, was the first jurisdiction in the country to seek emergency relief based on the immediate harms and coercion caused by President Trump’s January 25, 2017 Executive Order.  The City and County of San Francisco and the City of Richmond sought similar injunctions shortly afterward. 

In its order, the District Court rejected the Trump Administration’s argument that a two-page memorandum from Attorney General Jeff Sessions asserting that the Executive Order would only be used to withhold a few small grants could prevent the County’s suit from going forward.  The Court held that, despite the Trump Administration’s attempt to walk back its threat to de-fund sanctuary jurisdictions through the memorandum, the memorandum is entirely inconsistent with the clear directives of the Executive Order and “is functionally an ‘illusory promise’ to enforce the Executive Order narrowly[.]”  The Court concluded that the memorandum therefore “does not resolve the constitutional claims that the Counties have brought based on the Order’s language.” 

“Today’s decision strongly reaffirms that President Trump’s ‘Sanctuary Jurisdiction’ Executive Order is unconstitutional at its very core,” said Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams. “We are delighted with the Court’s well-reasoned and thoughtful decision.”

In its lawsuit, the County argues that the Executive Order violates the separation of powers, the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, and the Tenth Amendment.  The County’s filings and the District Court orders in the case can be found at