SAN JOSE — A U.S. District Court judge on Thursday upheld a preliminary injunction blocking President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order stripping Santa Clara County and other so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions” of federal funding.
Judge William Orrick also denied the federal government’s request to dismiss the county’s Feb. 3 lawsuit against the administration.
“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 county Board of Supervisors President Dave Cortese.
“We are eager and prepared,” he added, “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 federal government argued the lawsuit should be tossed after Attorney General Jeff Sessions penned a May 22 memo stating the executive order only would be used to withhold a handful of small grants.
Orrick, however, found the memo inconsistent with the directives of the order and “functionally an ‘illusory promise’ to enforce the executive order narrowly.” He concluded the memo did not resolve the constitutional claims the county has brought based on the order’s language.
In his April 25 decision granting the preliminary injunction, Orrick said Santa Clara County and co-plaintiff San Francisco had proved “they will suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction, and that the balance of harms and public interest weigh in their favor.”
The county will, for now, retain $1.7 billion in federal funding previously at stake under the executive order, which Santa Clara County officials said covers critical health and social services.
In the Bay Area, sanctuary counties include San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Alameda as well as cities such as Oakland and San Jose. Though many local jurisdictions have never officially designated themselves “sanctuaries,” they have said they will not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requirements that they turn over undocumented immigrants in their jail.
“Today’s decision strongly reaffirms that President Trump’s ‘sanctuary jurisdiction’ executive order is unconstitutional at its very core,” said county Counsel James Williams.
Staff writer Tatiana Sanchez contributed to this report.