Skip to main content

County of Santa Clara Leads Local Governments and Law Enforcement Leaders Nationwide In Opposing Texas Anti-Immigrant Law

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.—Joined by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the United States Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, other major local government associations, and cities and counties from across the country, the County of Santa Clara and the City of Laredo, Texas are filing an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief today urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to strike down the key provisions of Texas’s anti-immigrant law, SB 4.

The brief, co-authored by the Office of the County Counsel and the Laredo City Attorney’s Office, is being filed in City of El Cenizo, et al. v. State of Texas. The brief supports Texas cities and counties that filed suit to stop Texas from implementing SB 4 because it would force local law enforcement agencies throughout the state to engage in immigration enforcement, a role that is the exclusive responsibility of the federal government. SB 4 would hold the threat of financial penalties, criminal prosecution, and removal from office over local officials who decide to devote their scarce resources toward local public safety programs rather than federal immigration enforcement.  It would also undermine community trust in local law enforcement, driving immigrants further into the shadows, and making Texas less safe for everyone.

The Fifth Circuit will be reviewing a Texas federal district court’s preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the major provisions of SB 4. The district court enjoined a requirement that local jails comply with all “ICE detainers” by holding immigrants in local jails to allow federal officers to arrest them for immigration violations, as well as a ban on local officials engaging in constitutionally protected speech expressing their own preference for immigrant-friendly local policies.

“SB 4 is an assault on immigrants and the local governments that support them,” said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Dave Cortese. “Public safety depends on all residents knowing they can call police officers for help. Local law enforcement leaders across the country agree that if community members fear local police are working as immigration agents, they won’t come forward to report crimes. And that loss of trust can be impossible to repair.”

“In passing SB 4, Texas took a page from the Trump Administration’s playbook and went far beyond what the Constitution allows,” added Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams. “Texas cannot require local governments to violate the constitutional rights of their residents or enforce federal law contrary to their own local priorities, and Texas cannot threaten to remove local officials from office or even criminally prosecute them if they so much as speak out against the state’s unlawful actions.”

The County of Santa Clara and City of Laredo’s amicus brief is joined by 10 other cities and counties from across the country. Also joining the brief are five major national associations of local law enforcement and local government officials: the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and the International City/County Management Association.

The case is City of El Cenizo, et al. v. State of Texas, No. 17-50762 (in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals).


# # #


About the Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office

The County Counsel serves as legal counsel to the County, its Board of Supervisors and elected officials, every County department and agency, and the County’s boards and commissions. With a staff of 170 employees, including 85 attorneys, the Office of the County Counsel is also responsible for all civil litigation involving the County and its officers. Through its Social Justice and Impact Litigation Section, the Office litigates high-impact cases, drafts innovative local ordinances, and develops policies and programs to advance social and economic justice.


About the County of Santa Clara, California

The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents. With a $6.5 billion annual budget, dozens of offices/departments, and over 18,000 employees, the County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and treatment, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many others, particularly for those in the greatest need. The County is the most populous in Northern California.

Contact: Maria Leticia Gomez, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5154, [email protected]

Posted: October 20, 2017