Part of Trump’s January executive order on immigration included a threat to withhold federal funding from those cities that provide a ‘sanctuary’ to illegal immigrants. Law enforcement in sanctuary cities are not required to ask those who are detained or arrested whether or not they’re in the country illegally.
But on Tuesday, a U.S. District Judge in California blocked that part of the executive order when Santa Clara County and San Francisco filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration. The Associated Press reported:
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked any attempt by the Trump administration to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration authorities, saying the president has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued the preliminary injunction in two lawsuits – one brought by the city of San Francisco, the other by Santa Clara County – against an executive order targeting communities that protect immigrants from deportation.
The injunction will stay in place while the lawsuits work their way through court.
The judge said that President Donald Trump cannot set new conditions for the federal grants at stake. And even if he could, the conditions would have to be clearly related to the funds at issue and not coercive, Orrick said.
“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,” the judge said.
A Justice Department attorney, Chad Readler, had defended the president’s executive order as an attempt to use his “bully pulpit’ to “encourage communities and states to comply with the law.”
The Trump administration had further argued the lawsuits were premature because the government hasn’t cut off any money yet or declared any communities to be sanctuary cities.
Meanwhile, mayors from several U.S. cities threatened with the loss of federal grants emerged from a meeting Tuesday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying they remain confused about how to prove their police are in compliance with immigration policies – a necessary step for them to receive grant money.
During a recent court hearing, the Trump administration and the two California governments disagreed over the order’s scope.
San Francisco and Santa Clara County argued that the order threatened billions of dollars in federal funding for each of them, making it difficult to plan their budgets.
But Readler, acting assistant attorney general, said the threatened cutoff applies to three Justice Department and Homeland Security grants and would affect less than $1 million for Santa Clara County and possibly no money for San Francisco.
In his ruling, Orrick sided with San Francisco and Santa Clara, saying the order “by its plain language, attempts to reach all federal grants, not merely the three mentioned at the hearing.”
“And if there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments,” the judge said.
Conservative don’t see any harm in having police ask their detainees immigration status questions. That way, if they’re here illegally, they can be reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and be deported.
But the other side of the issue is that they don’t want those who are here illegally to feel like they can’t come forward as a witness to a crime or as a victim of a crime. If they know there’s a chance they could be deported, many would rather not come forward at all.
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