SAN FRANCISCO, CA, March 27, 2017 – Dozens of California school districts and leading education organizations announced the filing of an amicus brief supporting Santa Clara County in its legal challenge to President Trump’s executive order threatening to withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities.
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, a global law firm representing the school districts pro bono, submitted the brief on behalf of 18 public school districts, including the state’s largest in Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco and San Diego; 13 charter schools and three community college districts; and education leaders such as the California Teachers Association and Association of California School Administrators.
The brief urges a federal court to side with Santa Clara County, which argues that the executive order is an unconstitutional attempt to retaliate against cities, counties and states that decline to participate directly in federal immigration enforcement under the executive order.
The school districts argue in the brief that the administration’s executive order poses a direct threat to California’s educational environment.
“The Executive Order transforms schools from inclusive, safe spaces to places of fear and uncertainty, ultimately undermining our entire public education system,” the Orrick brief states. “By expansively targeting any “State” or “political subdivision of a State,” the Executive Order is causing sweeping, profound and irreparable harm to our children and their families, our public education system, and ultimately, the future of our country.”
Steve Zimmer, president of the Los Angeles Unified School District school board, praised the joint effort to side with Santa Clara County.
“President Trump’s Executive Order that targets school districts and municipalities who are simply trying to uphold every students’ access to public education and every family’s access to public safety must be challenged in the courts,” he said. “I appreciate the legal efforts now under way to protect cities and districts that have taken this necessary step. No school district should be punished for assuring families of their safety while accessing public education.”
“No child in California should fear going to school because they or their families may be deported,” added Richard Barrera, president of the San Diego Unified School Board of Trustees. “Neither should school administrators be forced to choose between critical funding and violating students’ rights.”
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Darren Teshima, an Orrick partner heading the pro bono effort, said he is hopeful the federal court will consider the implications for California schoolchildren in weighing Santa Clara County’s challenge.
“We’re proud to represent the interests of the state’s schools and students in this important case,” Darren said. “The stakes could not be higher. If the federal government is permitted to move forward with this policy, it will cast a pall over our state’s public schools and create lasting damage to our school communities, most importantly our young students who deserve better.”
Santa Clara County and the City and County of San Francisco have both filed lawsuits to block implementation of the executive order. The Orrick pro bono team intends to file a similar amicus brief on behalf of California school districts in the San Francisco case next week.
The ACLU has also filed a motion to intervene in the Santa Clara case on behalf of the YMCA of Silicon Valley. “We applaud California school districts and educators for coming forward to say they will not see their mission undermined by pressure or punishment to act as pawns of federal immigration enforcement,” said Sylvia Torres-Guillen, statewide director of Education Equity for the ACLU of California.