The Trump administration has vowed to overturn a liberal judge’s decision to block President Trump’s executive order to cut off all the federal funds to sanctuary cities, counties, and states.
A federal judge in Northern California ruled on Monday that President Trump cannot place more conditions on spending that Congress has approved. The judge’s ruling responded to the lawsuits brought by two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara, taking exception to Trump’s threat to cut off federal grants to these localities that limit law enforcement’s cooperation with the U.S. immigration authorities.
The Justice Department, late Monday, disputed that cities, counties, and states do not have the ability to break federal law and continue receiving federal money without any repercussions.
“The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the president from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law,” said the Justice Department spokeswoman, Devin O’Malley. “The Justice Department will vindicate the president’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”
The judge’s ruling had aimed to prevent the President from following through with a January executive order that was designed to crack down on sanctuary cities and broader localities that had refused to comply with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement – ICE requests to hold the immigrants arrested or convicted of crimes until federal authorities can pick them up.
California’s legislature had passed a law in October making the entire state a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. The law is Californian Democrats’ latest salvo in its war with President Trump over immigration policy.
Chicago and New York have also refused to comply with the requests of ICE.
The U.S. District Judge – William Horsley Orrick III, who was appointed by former President Obama to the bench, had rejected the administration’s argument that the federal grants in question represented a small amount of money and therefore never threatened the state’s rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
Instead, Orrick had said that the executive order was written in a sweeping way to “reach all federal grants,” citing the remarks given by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he said that the threat to pull funding was not limited to a narrow set of grants.
He had also referred to the comments Trump made about his own order, calling it a “weapon” against the localities that reject federal law.
A Department of Justice lawyer, in April this year, had said the threat to pull federal money only applied to a few federal grants, that too, for less than a million dollars for Santa Clara County and even less for San Francisco.
San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, had hailed the ruling as a “victory for the American people and the rule of law. This executive order was unconstitutional before the ink on it was even dry,” he had said in a statement. “President Trump might be able to tweet whatever comes to mind, but he can’t grant himself new authority because he feels like it.”
The vast majority of California’s sheriffs oppose the law, and the California State Sheriffs’ Association had called on the GOP-controlled Congress to intervene and pass a new federal law to change the state’s sanctuary status.
They also said that the law would prevent police from notifying the ICE of self-admitted members of MS-13 or other gangs if they were arrested for misdemeanor crimes, such as assault and battery, possession of narcotics, being under the influence of the narcotics, or driving without a license.