While national media focus on the legal right surrounding the “sanctuary jurisdictions” case, students in Stanford’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic have seen the public safety issues it raises firsthand.

“We’ve heard stories of people not going to medical clinics. We’ve heard domestic violence survivors expressing reluctance to report what’s happening to them and anxiety about getting temporary restraining orders. So there are very real consequences to the interior enforcement executive order,” says Srikantiah.

Clinic students Matthew Sellers, and Andrew Chang, both JD ’17, co-wrote a brief in support of Santa Clara County v. Trump et al. Their brief focused on the effects of the Trump administration’s interior enforcement executive order, which threatens to cut federal funding to “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

“As you might imagine, counties depend in large measure for social services on the federal government’s funding, and it looked like they were about to lose a lot of money because of that,” says Sellers.

The students also looked at policing and public safety issues.

“There’s a really well-documented body of literature that explains that the reason you have a sanctuary city policy in the first place is that cooperation with local law enforcement and immigrant communities and the community at large is really important, and it gets hampered when local law enforcement is basically being used to enforce federal immigration directives,” says Chang.

“We wanted to argue two things. First, that it was going to really impact the relationship that these counties had worked so hard to build between law enforcement and immigrants,” says Sellers. “The second was that when you involve local law enforcement in immigration enforcement, there’s a real risk that there will be discriminatory enforcement because you can’t look at someone and know if he or she has documentation or not.”

Sellers and Chang were relieved when Federal District Judge Orrick issued a temporary nationwide block on the executive order in April.

“I’d like to think that the human element of this litigation, and what we shared in the brief, helped to shape the decision,” says Chang.