Judge Blocks Trump's Sanctuary City Executive Order

by Chris Tognotti
Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

According to Reuters, the Trump administration has been handed yet another defeat in a court of law. In San Francisco on Tuesday, a U.S. district judge blocked President Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities. Specifically, the order was designed to withhold funding from such cities, which are loosely defined as places where local police departments don't cooperate or coordinate with federal immigration officers to deport undocumented residents.

Trump was vociferous in his disdain for sanctuary cities during the campaign, as just one of his many vitriolic stances on undocumented immigrants. He repeatedly promised to withhold federal funding from cities that refused to turn over such immigrants to the ICE, and upon taking office, tried to implement this policy by way of an executive order.

But now, Judge William H. Orrick has blocked the order on constitutional grounds, and once again, it sounds as though Trump's own public words have come back to bite him. As detailed by Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed News, the ruling specifically cited Trump's own characterization of the order as a "weapon" against cities that wouldn't obey. Ultimately, Orrick concluded that the executive order amounted to an attempt to strip Congress of its specifically outlined Constitutional powers over federal spending, and that the plaintiffs currently challenging it had a strong case against it.

As Orrick wrote in his ruling:

The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds. Further, the Tenth Amendment requires that conditions on federal funds be unambiguous and timely made; that they bear some relation to the funds at issue; and that the total financial incentive not be coercive. 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.

In Orrick's view, the constitutional case against Trump's order is strong enough that the plaintiffs currently challenging it ― namely, the city and county of San Francisco and the county of Santa Clara ― are "likely to succeed on the merits of their challenge." Therefore, he blocked the order, handing Trump another high-profile defeat in the federal court system.

This echoes the administration's disastrous attempt to enact a hugely controversial executive order banning refugees and incoming travel from several majority Muslim countries, a plan Trump initially laid out during his campaign as a blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States. If you'd like to read Orrick's full ruling, you can find it here.