Signs ‘Friend of the Court’ status in Santa Clara, San Francisco County lawsuits
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors authorized County Counsel to sign Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) briefs in the cases of San Francisco v. Trump and Santa Clara County v. Trump. The County is not becoming a party to the lawsuits mentioned; rather, it is joining briefs that will be filed in an effort to assist the court in making its ruling. Monterey County joins many other cities and counties across the Country in signing these briefs.
President Trump issued an Executive Order on January 25, which threatens to withhold federal funds provided to the county for critical programs such as health care, social services, transportation and law enforcement if the county fails to provide ICE immigration status information or if the Sheriff refuses to detain persons beyond their legal release date. While prior Presidential administrations prioritized immigration enforcement on felons and violent criminals, Trump’s Executive Order eliminates prioritization policy and declares that all undocumented immigrants should be subject to deportation.
In addition, the Executive Order threatens to withhold federal funds from any government entity that has a statute, policy or practice that hinders immigration law enforcement. Complicating the matter is that there is no definition of “sanctuary” or “hindering” and leaves the determination up to the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Because state law limits when the county can release information on immigrants, and requires the Sheriff to release detainees according to law, following state law may cause all counties in California to be declared a sanctuary.
The county is signing on to these Amicus Curiae briefs because the Executive Order is in excess of the President’s authority and violates numerous principles of federal constitutional law.
“The Federal Government has failed in its responsibility to pass immigration reform” said Supervisor Luis Alejo, the author of the county’s “Welcoming County Resolution.”
“Without specificity in the Order,” continued Alejo, “‘hindering immigrant deportation’ could include the Sheriff failing to release to ICE persons charged with minor offenses like driving without a license or if Natividad Medical Center refuses to disclose a patient’s immigration status.”
Chair of the Board, Mary Adams, added, “While we are concerned that federal funds could be withheld for merely following state law, Monterey County should not be threatened with losing money and coerced into doing the federal government’s job on immigration. It is our responsibility to sign on as Friends of the Court, to defend the authority and independence of local Government. In addition, there will be virtually no cost to the county to take this critical action.”
Supervisor Salinas said “this Order could devastate our agricultural industry and hospitality industries if hardworking immigrants are deported and others are afraid to be out in the community. If immigrants move into the shadows, law enforcement will lose their cooperation and public safety will suffer.”
According to County Counsel, Charles McKee, “the Executive Order appears to violate the Constitution’s 5th Amendment because it is vague, the 10th Amendment separation of powers as well as Congress’ power to appropriate funds. We are a nation of laws and those laws do not grant the President unchecked power.”