SAN JOSE, Calif. - The city of San Jose has now joined 15 other states, the University of California and the state of California in suing President Donald Trump over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA - becoming the first city to do so.
The suit was filed in the San Jose branch of the U.S. District Court of Northern California on Thursday, alleging the administration is violating the Fifth Amendment and breach of contract, among other things.
"We are the very first city to file in America," said plaintiff attorney Joseph Cotchett of Burlingame, who is representing San Jose along with the city attorney's office.
Cotchett told KTVU that his suit is essentially the same as the state Attorney General's suit and UC President Janet Napolitano's suit, but those lawsuits cover UC employees and state employees, respectively.
San Jose is the 10th largest city in California,where 40 percent of its current population was born in another country. San Jose has "suffered its own injury," the lawsuit claims, as it has a close relationship with its employees.
“The city’s own workforce is harmed by this rescission," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said at a news conference, "imperiling the ability of these city employees to lawfully continue to serve our community in critical functions. Our city residents directly suffer because they lose critical services at a time when we are already stretched thin with hundreds of vacancies at City Hall.”
On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the DACA program would be rescinded if Congress doesn't do anything to preserve it. He said a country has the right to decide who and how many people to accept into a country.
"We are people of compassion and we are people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at the time.
The program has offered deportation relief and work permits to about 800,000 young people brought to the United States illegally when they were children. California is home to 220,000 DACA recipients.
Santa Clara University Law professor Deep Gulasekaram says San Jose's lawsuit forces the President and Attorney General to back-up their claims. Gulasekaram says the new lawsuit is similar to others already filed by 18 states and the UC system, but thinks the move may be about more than a legal fight.
"Discrimination claims in general are quite difficult to win in court. But I think that may not be the entire basis or reason for the litigation itself. I think partly it's to tell a different story," said Gulasekaram.
Santa Clara County is estimated to be home to 25,000 DACA recipients, the majority presumed to be in San Jose.
"These are teachers, nurses, city employees who provide services including public safety," said Liccardo. "We got to do everything we can to protect them. My message to them is we've got your back."
KTVU asked Mayor Liccardo what he thinks about talk of a deal between President Trump and democrats.
"If the legislature finally comes around and is able to ensure we have protection for all of our "Dreamers" we're happy to make this lawsuit go away. But in the meantime we're going to fight," said Liccardo.
Liccardo says he's talking with other mayors in California and the legal action could turn into a class-action lawsuit. He adds the lawsuit won't cost taxpayers a thing because the law firm representing the city is working for free.
KTVU reporter Maureen Naylor contributed to this report.