Judge blocks Trump's order defunding 'santuary cities'

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the Trump administration can not withhold federal funds from jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with immigration authorities, commonly known as sanctuary cities.

The judge said that argument was not plausible because the wording of Trump's order addressed all federal funding and because Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had made broad statements threatening to withhold, terminate or claw back federal funding. Trump's travel ban had caused worldwide protests, with people in the United States marching to airports welcoming foreigners with supporting placards.

The judge said it is unconstitutional for the executive branch to place new conditions on federal funds because that would intrude on Congress's spending power.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued the temporary ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit over the executive order targeting so-called sanctuary cities.

The order "does not purport to enjoin the Department's independent legal authority to enforce the requirements of federal law applicable to communities that violate federal immigration law or federal grant conditions", Justice spokesman Ian Prior said.

The Trump Administration had also suffered a defeat earlier this year when two federal judges suspended the USA president's controversial executive orders that banned people from at least seven Muslim-majority countries to enter the US.

Trump's promise of appeal could land the case in the Ninth Circuit court, viewed as one of the more liberal venues in the federal court system and so a more risky court for the government to lodge a challenge.

There were a few instances cited by the order of Trump telegraphing his moves over the past few months.

Mayors say the government is unreasonably demanding they divert public safety and law enforcement manpower to immigration roundups that often affect law-abiding people in the country for decades.

The Department of Justice said Tuesday that it will continue to enforce a federal law that forbids communities from blocking reports on people's immigration status to federal authorities.

"Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement can not be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves", Orrick said.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick said in his ruling that the president can not set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

The administration has said the executive order protects public safety by keeping unsafe criminals out of the streets. "We'll win at the Supreme Court level at some point".

"It's the Ninth Circuit going bananas", Priebus told reporters in his office in the West Wing of the White House late Tuesday, The Hill reported.

The Trump administration has vowed to fight rulings in the travel ban and sanctuary cities cases all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

  • Zachary Reyes