Seattle Sues Trump Administration Over Sanctuary Cities Order

He more recently took a frontline role in representing two Yemeni men detained at the Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. after Trump signed the first ban on travelers from seven majority Muslim countries.

Now Trump's threats against particular "sanctuary cities" during his campaign are coming back to haunt him in lawsuits challenging another executive order: The ultimatum threatening a cut off of federal funding to cities that "willfully" fail to cooperate with federal officers hunting down undocumented immigrants.

"We are not breaking any laws and we are prioritizing safety", Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said, according to member station KUOW.

One is that by placing a burden on cities to act in assistance of immigration agents the federal government is "commandeering" or effectively conscripting state and local officials "to enforce federal law", as San Francisco says in its suit.

Trump, who made tougher immigration enforcement a cornerstone of his campaign, directed the government in his January 25 executive order to cut off funding to sanctuary jurisdictions.

There is no precise legal definition for what makes a city or state a "sanctuary".

"Local governments do not enforce federal law and are prohibited from doing so", Holmes said.

San Francisco, as well as the smaller towns of Lawrence and Chelsea in MA, have filed similar but more limited lawsuits.

But City Attorney Pete Holmes didn't see it that way.

Mayor Murray has reiterated Seattle's status as a sanctuary city for residents who are undocumented many times since Trump's election this past November. Multiple federal courts have also found that the detainers are not sufficient for a local jail to hold an immigrant beyond their sentence or after bail has been posted. San Francisco, Santa Clara County, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Oakland, Berkeley, Calif.; Santa Ana, Calif.; and Denver are among the many plaintiffs. On Monday, Sessions threatened to withhold community policing grants from sanctuary cities, which seemed to be the most concrete step toward treating these locations differently. "We are a safer more prosperous city because of our immigrant and refugee communities and will continue standing with them". City Attorney Pete Holmes spoke dismissively of Sessions on Monday.

"And I think that is because of our relationship with our community". "He's simply helping his boss change the subject".

Murray has said he is willing to lose "every penny" of that rather than alter how the city approaches immigration enforcement. The city demanded the Trump administration define exactly what Seattle is and is not legally obligated to do. He followed that pronouncement with a threat to sue if the city was not provided with the records quickly. In fact, Seattle officials argue, the opposite is true.

Among the reasons cited by Judge Derrick Watson in his original ruling in Hawaii was that Trump's "contemporaneous public statements" - about keeping Muslims out of the US - suggested that the travel restrictions "were issued with a objective to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously-neutral goal".

While the announcement of the lawsuit comes tight on the heels of Sessions' threats, the city had all but committed to legal at least several weeks ago.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court asks a judge to declare that Seattle is in compliance with the law and that the executive order is unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment and the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

  • Leroy Wright