When Menlo Park's City Council meets Tuesday, it may take a stand on President Trump's Jan. 25 executive order, which states that so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions should be denied federal grants if they "willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States."
The question before the council is whether Menlo Park should join as a "friend of the court" lawsuits brought by Santa Clara County and San Francisco challenging the executive order. So far, at least 27 people have emailed the council expressing support for this action.
Councilman Ray Mueller, who proposed that the question be put on the council's agenda, said that Menlo Park will suffer adverse effects if the threats are carried out against Santa Clara County. The county, he said, could lose as much as $1.7 billion, from one-quarter to one-third of the county's budget.
That funding goes toward infrastructure projects and social services for low-income and homeless people, he said. Without that funding, traffic and infrastructure conditions would worsen across the region, and there would be more homeless and needy people not getting help regionally.
Definitions vary, but "sanctuary" cities or jurisdictions generally provide protections for undocumented residents. Typically, this means that police do not ask people about their immigration status or cooperate with federal immigration officials to detain people in the justice system longer than they would otherwise be kept in custody.
"Irrespective of where a person falls on the sanctuary city issue, one thing we should all be able to agree on is that local jurisdictions shouldn't be bullied into losing their infrastructure funding and funding for public services based on local control decisions," Mueller said.
Santa Clara County's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to file a lawsuit against President Trump on Jan. 31. The deadline for other groups to submit "friend of the court" briefs is March 22.
According to Menlo Park City Attorney Bill McClure, the "friend of the court" brief is still being drafted by the law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, and is not written specifically for Menlo Park. The idea is that "multiple jurisdictions may join it," he said in an email. The document will not be made public until it is filed.
An attorney at the firm confirmed that it is working on a possible "friend of the court" brief and is doing it on a pro bono basis.
The Menlo Park City Council is scheduled to discuss whether the city should pass a "sanctuary city" ordinance at its April 4 meeting, according to Mayor Kirsten Keith.