It’s judicial over-reach by activist judges all over again.
The AP reports that today (April 25, 2017), a federal judge, U.S. District Judge William Orrick, blocked any attempt by the Trump administration to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with U.S. immigration authorities on deporting illegal “undocumented” aliens.
Note: William Horsley Orrick III, 63, was nominated by Obama to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California. On May 15, 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination by a vote of 56 to 41. According to Public Citizen, a non-profit, consumer rights advocacy group, Orrick, then employed by Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, raised at least $200,000 for Barack Obama and donated $30,800 to committees supporting Obama.
“Sanctuary cities” is a loosely defined term for jurisdictions — cities, counties, states — that don’t comply with immigration authorities.
Orrick issued the preliminary injunction in two lawsuits – one brought by the city of San Francisco, the other by Santa Clara County – against Trump’s executive order to defund sanctuary cities, counties, and states. The injunction will stay in place while the lawsuits work their way through court.
The Trump Administration maintains San Francisco’s and Santa Clara County’s lawsuits are premature because the federal government hasn’t cut off any money yet or declared any communities to be sanctuary cities. The administration says sanctuary cities allow dangerous criminals back on the street and that the order is needed to keep the country safe. San Francisco and other sanctuary cities say turning local police into immigration officers erodes trust that is needed to get people to report crime.
Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler had defended Trump’s executive order as an attempt to use his “bully pulpit’ to “encourage communities and states to comply with the law.” But Judge Orrick contends that President Trump has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending. And even if he could, the conditions would have to be clearly related to the funds at issue and not coercive because “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.”
San Francisco and Santa Clara County argue that Trump’s executive order threatens billions of dollars in federal funding for each of them, making it difficult to plan their budgets. But Readler said the threatened cutoff applies to three Justice Department and Homeland Security grants and would affect less than $1 million for Santa Clara County and possibly no money for San Francisco.
In his ruling, Orrick sided with San Francisco and Santa Clara, saying the order “by its plain language, attempts to reach all federal grants, not merely the three mentioned at the hearing. And if there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments.”
Trump’s executive order has also led to lawsuits by Seattle; two Massachusetts cities, Lawrence and Chelsea; and the city of Richmond in the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Francisco and Santa Clara County lawsuits were the first to get a hearing before a judge.
Meanwhile, mayors from several U.S. cities threatened with the loss of federal grants emerged from a meeting today with Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying they remain confused about how to prove their police are in compliance with immigration policies – a necessary step for them to receive grant money.
The sanctuary city order was among a flurry of immigration measures Trump has signed since taking office in January, including a ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and a directive calling for a wall on the Mexican border.
A federal appeals court blocked the travel ban. The administration then revised it, but the new version also is stalled in court.