A federal judge has blocked a directive from President Donald Trump seeking to deny federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” and other localities that decline to cooperate in enforcement of federal immigration laws.
San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday barring federal officials nationwide from carrying out the portion of a Jan. 25 Trump executive order aimed at cutting off grants to local governments that won’t provide assistance to federal authorities in locating and detaining undocumented immigrants.
Orrick cited public comments from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in concluding that the order appeared intended to sweep more broadly than allowed by federal law. The judge, an Obama appointee, called “not legally plausible” the Justice Department’s arguments that Trump was simply trying to secure compliance with current law.
“If there was doubt about the scope of the Order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments,” Orrick wrote. “The Constitution vests the spending power in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds.”
The judge acted on lawsuits brought by California’s San Francisco and by Santa Clara counties. At least three other suits are pending over the same sanctuary city language in Trump’s immigration-enforcement executive order.
The ruling is another blow to Trump’s efforts to use executive orders to carry out major policy moves—an effort his staff is highlighting as he approaches the 100-days-in-office mark. Courts have also blocked key portions of two of the president’s other immigration-related executive orders—his travel bans on visitors from several majority Muslim countries.