Santa Clara County leaders discuss sanctuary city challenges

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The stage is set for a hearing in federal court in San Francisco Friday morning to challenge President Donald Trump's executive order to cut off federal funds to an estimated 400 sanctuary cities and counties across the U.S. The suit seeking an injunction was initiated by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

RELATED: Santa Clara County asks federal judge to stop Trump's sanctuary city order

"You should be concerned about the fact that we have a President that is trying to unilaterally try to use federal funds to essentially extort jurisdictions to make them do his bidding," said Deputy County Executive David Campos.

Santa Clara County officials say they could lose $1.7 billion in federal funds, much of it used for public health and hospital services. Seventy percent of the budget at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center comes from federal funding.

"We depend on federal funding to deliver hot meals to seniors, to provide child care for working families," said Patricia Gardner, who works with the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits.

RELATED: San Leandro declares itself a sanctuary city

The sheriff cited studies that find sanctuary counties have lower crime rates. She's all-in to strike down the presidential order.

"It will only create chaos, increase crime and leave us fewer resources to deal with much, much bigger problems," said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith.

Experts in constitutional and immigration law say the executive order is on shaky ground for two reasons.

"The threat to withhold larger blocks of funding that might go to housing, health care, community development. All those are likely unconstitutional penalties that the executive is threatening and two, he might actually need Congressional authorization," said Santa Clara University Law School Professor Pratheepan Gulasekaram.

The county says it plans to create a contingency budget fund in case it loses, but finding $1 billion will be difficult.

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