A California judge has ruled President Donald Trump cannot withhold federal funds from jurisdictions that harbor illegal aliens, the latest in a string of court defeats against the administration’s effort to crackdown on sanctuary cities.
Judge William Orrick III — a Obama-appointed judge serving on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California — ruled Monday that the State Department cannot withhold federal law enforcement grants from “sanctuary” jurisdictions without an act of Congress. The case was brought forward by the state of California and the county and city of San Francisco, all of which stood to lose over $30 million in funding from the federal government.
“Congress knows how to grant broad discretionary authority but did not do so here,” Orrick stated in his ruling, adding that neither the president nor the Justice Department can mandate state and local governments to reform their policies to qualify for federal funding.
Orrick’s decision marks what is at least the 10th court ruling against the Trump administration’s fight to withhold grants from jurisdictions that refuse to help federal law enforcement officials track down and catch illegal immigrants, i.e. sanctuary cities. The losses also include rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeal for the 9th, 7th, and 3rd circuits.
The fight between sanctuary cities and Trump date back to the very beginning of his administration.
The president issued an executive order in January 2017 that blocked federal funding sanctuary cities in an effort to force them to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. The Justice Department went a step further later that year by targeting 29 cities, metro areas, counties and states, accusing them of violating federal law with their “sanctuary policies.” Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned in a letter to the 29 jurisdictions that they must comply with federal law or else risk losing on millions in funds.
However, an unbroken string of court losses has resulted in nearly every targeted jurisdiction either receiving or has been cleared to receive, federal grants. Of the 29 localities that received a warning from Sessions, only the state of Oregon has not yet been cleared to receive federal grants from 2017.
The court decisions come as the Democratic Party has increasingly adopted a critical stance against ICE. A growing number of Democratic lawmakers have either called for ICE to be defunded or abolished altogether.
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