A federal judge has blocked any attempt the Trump administration has made to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with immigration authorities.
San Francisco U.S. District Judge William Orrick said President Trump has no authority to attack new conditions to federal spending.
According to The Seattle Times, Orrick issued the preliminary injunction in two lawsuits against the executive order targeting sanctuary cities. One was brought forth by the city of San Francisco and the other by Santa Clara County.
The injunction will stay in place while the two lawsuits work their way through the court system.
The judge rejected the administration’s argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.
“Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves,” the judge said.
It was the third major setback for the administration on immigration policy. The Justice Department had no immediate comment.
Of course, liberals were overjoyed to hear the news. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera praised the ruling, excitedly stating that the president was “forced to back down.”
“This is why we have courts — to halt the overreach of a president and an attorney general who either don’t understand the Constitution or chose to ignore it.”
Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams was another who was on cloud nine over the ruling. He stated it would allow cities and counties to prepare budgets without the “unconstitutional threat of federal defunding hanging over our heads.
What about the fact that sanctuary cities are breaking the law? Don’t these people ever think about that?
A Justice Department attorney, Chad Readler, previously defended the president’s executive order as an attempt to use his “bully pulpit” to “encourage communities and states to comply with the law.”
Readler also said the order applied to only three Justice Department and Homeland Security grants that would affect less than $1 million for Santa Clara County and possibly no money for San Francisco.
But the judge said executive order was written broadly to reach all federal grants and potentially jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to San Francisco and Santa Clara.
He cited comments by the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as evidence of the order’s scope and said the president himself had called it a “weapon” to use against recalcitrant cities.
To date, the government hasn’t cut off funding or declared they would cut funding to specific cities. Yet.
The Justice Department did send out letters just last week advising cities and communities to prove they were in compliance with the law.
Since California loves to defy anything Trump says, they could lose up to $18.2 million.
In their executive order, the Trump administration defined sanctuary cities as communities that forbid officials from reporting a person’s immigration status to federal authorities.
But in Orrick’s eyes, the order indicated it could also be construed to apply to cities that refuse to hold jail inmates for immigration authorities.
With the revised travel ban still pending in court, who knows how long we will have to wait for this to be straightened out as well.