US District Judge William Orrick from the Northern District of California [official website] heard arguments Friday over President Trump’s executive order withholding federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities”. San Fransisco and Santa Clara both filed suit [complaint, PDF] asking for a nationwide preliminary injunction to the order. The cities allege [Bloomberg report] that the order would cause great harm to the American people and cause losses of billions of dollars in federal funding to the two cities, if they were not to abide by what they say are unconstituional demands. The Federal Government argued [Reuters report], that it was a national policy priority and that there had been no enforcement yet, so it was unclear what the actual damage to the cities would be. Orrick agreed with the cities that they would be harmed if they abided by Trump’s policy and that the cities had the right to sue to block it. It is not clear when a ruling in the case is expected.
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 order [order] cutting 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.