Federal District Judge William H. Orrick issued an order on April 25th blocking President Trump from cutting off federal funds to so-called “sanctuary cities.” The ruling came just four days after the Department of Justice mailed notices to cities like New York and San Francisco threatening them with a loss of Federal dollars if they did not tow Trump’s line. The order blocks the new Trump policy nationwide.
Lawyers for the Trump administration said that the grants threatened with termination were limited in scope and amount. However, the representatives for the two municipalities that brought the lawsuit, Santa Clara and San Francisco, pointed out that Trump’s own January executive order authorizing the attack on funding for the “sanctuary cities” envisioned broad cuts in funding. The judge found that Trump’s executive order, “by its plain language, attempts to reach all federal grants.” Orrick noted that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have repeatedly bragged that they would force compliance with their wishes by cutting off billions in federal funds. The judge said that “if there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments.”
Judge Orrick also said that it was illegal for the federal government to dictate policing methods in cities and counties by threatening a funding cutoff. He ruled that “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.”
While Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked “sanctuary cities,” his own lawyers had to admit at a hearing last week that he had not provided them with a definition of the term and that they could not identify which cities would be impacted by any cutoff. Frankly, this is another case of the president trying to get his talk radio talking points to court and not getting them past a judge.