Dozens of California school districts and leading education organizations filed an amicus brief today supporting Santa Clara County in its legal challenge to President Trump’s executive order threatening to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities.
Orrick, 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 San Jose, Los Angeles, 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.”
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.”
Steve Zimmer, president of the Los Angeles Unified School District school board, praised the effort.
“I appreciate the legal efforts now under way to protect cities and districts that have taken this necessary step,” he said. “No school district should be punished for assuring families of their safety when accessing public education.”
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.
In addition to Darren, the Orrick team includes associates Jazmin Holmes and Daniel Guerra.