County of Santa Clara and Its Employees Jointly Sue the Trump Administration to Block DACA Repeal

Education Photo Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0]

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.  – On Tuesday October 10th, the County of Santa Clara and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 521 filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Trump Administration to overturn its unlawful rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program.

The lawsuit is the first in the nation to be brought jointly by an employer and affected workers in response to the Trump Administration’s cancellation of the DACA program.  The County lawfully employs DACA recipients in important roles, and many of these employees provide critical services to County residents. 

“Yet again, the Trump Administration has overstepped the constitutional bounds of its authority.  The County and its residents are harmed by stripping law-abiding young people of their ability to participate in the workforce and access critical safety net services,” said Dave Cortese, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.  “The County of Santa Clara is prepared to fight vigorously to defend the rights of its employees and residents.”

In its complaint, the County and SEIU Local 521, which represents more than 10,000 County employees including many DACA recipients, seek to invalidate the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program and to prohibit the Administration from using information provided in DACA applications for deportation purposes.   

“The Trump Administration’s ill-considered decision to end DACA is illegal and wrong,” said Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams.  “Stopping DREAMers—brought to this country as children—from working, studying, and productively contributing to our communities is foolish and violates fundamental principles of law.”

In addition to the more than 10,000 County of Santa Clara employees it represents, SEIU Local 521 also represents an additional 30,000 workers throughout the central Bay Area and California’s Central Valley. “It is our responsibility to protect the rights of our members,” said Riko Mendez, Chief Elected Officer of SEIU Local 521.  “We are partnering with Santa Clara County to preserve the ability of DACA recipients to serve our community.”

A 2016 Migration Policy Institute report estimated that Santa Clara County is home to 23,000 DACA-eligible individuals.  To be eligible for DACA, a person must have been brought to the United States as a child; have graduated from high school, received an equivalent degree, or be an honorably discharged veteran; and not have convictions for any felony, any significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a security threat. 

In the lawsuit, the County and its employees argue the decision to rescind DACA violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses and the Administrative Procedure Act.  The lawsuit also seeks to hold the federal government to the promises it made to these youth, a legal principle known as equitable estoppel.  Altshuler Berzon LLP represents Local 521 in the lawsuit and is co-counsel for the County.  The County’s complaint can be found at