Society

Judge Blocks Trump's Plan To Defund Sanctuary Cities

| by Ray Brown

On April 25, a federal judge in San Francisco partially blocked President Donald Trump's executive order that sought to withhold federal grant money from self-declared "sanctuary cities" that do not fully comply with demands from immigration officials regarding detained undocumented immigrants.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick ruled that Trump did not have the authority to carry out the executive order he signed on Jan. 25, which could have potentially affected more than 300 local jurisdictions around the country, according to USA Today.

"The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds," Orrick wrote.

Orrick also ruled that, while Trump is not able to withhold all federal grants by using "coercive" measures, he can withhold three Justice Department grants tied directly to law enforcement from sanctuary cities.

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Sanctuary cities is an informal term with no set definition but is usually used to describe a city in local law enforcement does not fully comply with requests from immigration officials, usually in cases where they are asked to keep a detained undocumented immigrant in custody for longer than initially intended in order to be transferred to federal custody.

In court, Trump administration attorneys argued that the executive order was more of a bluff than an actual threat and that only a handful of grants would be impacted, reported The New York Times.

Orrick, who was a bundler for former President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, raising more than $200,000, according to Open Secrets, questioned the reasoning for the executive order in the first place.

"The result of this schizophrenic approach to the order is that the counties’ worst fears are not allayed and the counties reasonably fear enforcement under the order," he wrote.

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The Trump administration voiced their displeasure with the ruling.

"Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation," press secretary Sean Spicer said in the statement. "This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge. Today's ruling undermines faith in our legal system and raises serious questions about circuit shopping."

But California Democrats applauded the ruling.

"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," said Dennis Herrera, the San Francisco city attorney, according to The New York Times. "Because San Francisco took this president to court, we’ve been able to protect billions of dollars that fund lifesaving programs across this country."

"Today's decision is a historic affirmation of the U.S. Constitution's core principles -- that the President cannot usurp powers not given to him, and that the federal government cannot use federal defunding to coerce local governments into becoming federal immigration enforcers," said Santa Clara County counsel James Williams, according to USA Today.

Sources: USA Today, The New York Times, Open Secrets / Photo Credit: ICE

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