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Federal judge blocks defunding of 'sanctuary cities'

[JURIST] US District Judge William Orrick from the Northern District of California [official profile] on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction [text, PDF] against Executive Order 13768, titled Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States [text, PDF] which would have allowed the federal government to withhold funds from cities which have been designated as "sanctuary cities." In the ijunction, Orrick rejected the government's argument that it did not reach beyond the president's scope, saying "[t]he President has called it [']a weapon['] to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement" and holding that "[t]he Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds." Orrick found that the counties had a likelihood of success in the case against section 9(a) of the order and that they would be irreparably harmed without an injunction in place. The court also noted that the injunction did not "impact the Government's ability to use lawful means to enforce existing conditions of federal grants or 8 U.S.C. 1373, nor does it restrict the Secretary from developing regulations or preparing guidance on designating a jurisdiction as a 'sanctuary jurisdiction.'" Earlier this month, Orrick heard arguments [JURIST report] over President Trump's executive order withholding federal funds from so-called "sanctuary cities".

Immigration has been a key focus for Trump since his inauguration. One part of Trump's plan has been to cut federal funding for cities that do not inquire into the immigration status and would not act with or on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the so called 'sanctuary cities' [JURIST commentary]. Trump passed the executive ordercutting funding to sanctuary cities. The order was also challenged [JURIST report] by the city of Seattle in March, arguing that their designation as a "sanctuary city" should not prevent them from receiving federal funds.

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