Since the first Executive Order limiting immigration from certain Muslim countries in January, the technology community has been making its voice heard—from thousands of technology employees pledging never to work on databases for a Muslim registry or other discriminatory purposes to Airbnb offering free housing to refugees and individuals impacted by the anti-immigration order to countless CEOs issuing statements communicating solidarity with immigrants and support of diversity.
This past week, through an amicus brief filed by Fenwick & West, a group of technology companies spoke out against a recent Executive Order that threatens to cut off all federal grants to local governmental entities that decline to participate in federal immigration enforcement.
Many of these communities—sometimes referred to as "sanctuary cities" or "sanctuary jurisdictions"—have adopted policies against cooperation with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants, and oppose having their police forces conscripted into federal immigration enforcement.
Although the Executive Order does not define "sanctuary jurisdictions," and it is not clear whether any particular city or county might be targeted by the order, it is likely to have serious and harmful consequences for both the technology industry and our local communities as a whole.
Fenwick filed the amicus brief on behalf of these technology companies in two sanctuary jurisdiction cases pending in the Northern District of California, in which the County of Santa Clara and the City and County of San Francisco are asking the U.S. District Court to issue a nationwide injunction, barring the federal government from enforcing the Executive Order against potential "sanctuary jurisdictions."
The County of Santa Clara has challenged the constitutionality of the Trump Administration’s Executive Order 13,768, which purports to make so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions”, including “sanctuary cities”, largely ineligible for federal grants.
The Counties of Santa Clara and San Francisco are seeking preliminary injunctions preventing enforcement of the order. While a motion has been filed to consolidate the cases, the hearing dates for the injunction remain scheduled for April 5, 2017 (Santa Clara case), and April 12, 2017 (San Francisco case).
Fenwick’s brief supports issuing these injunctions, noting that nearly every major technology hub in America is a city at risk of being labelled a “sanctuary” jurisdiction and losing federal funding or federal grants. The brief argues (a) that the Executive Order undermines the right of local governments to make their own public safety determinations and set their own law enforcement priorities, (b) that the order threatens the well-being of the communities in which technology companies are embedded, (c) that the order undermines the ability of technology companies to recruit the best employees, and (d) that it makes even lawful immigrants feel unsafe in America. Finally, the Executive Order seeks to compel conduct antithetical to the values of inclusiveness, diversity and openness that have enabled Silicon Valley to thrive.
We’re proud to have taken this first step in support of the Counties of Santa Clara and San Francisco’s legal fight.
The brief can be viewed here.