Judge blocks defunding of ‘sanctuary cities’

US District Judge  District Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California on April 25 issued a temporary injunction (PDF)  against Executive Order 13768, "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States" (PDF), which would have allowed the federal government to withhold funds from municipalities that have been designated as "sanctuary cities." Orrick rejected the government's argument that the order was within the president's scope, saying, "The President has called it 'a weapon' to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement… The 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 localities 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… nor does it restrict the [Homeland] Secretary from developing regulations or preparing guidance on designating a jurisdiction as a 'sanctuary jurisdiction.'" Earlier this month, Orrick heard arguments in the challenge, which was brought by the counties of San Francisco and Santa Clara.

From Jurist, April 26. Used with permission.

Note: The ruling to strike down Trump's order to withhold funds from sanctuary cities comes a month after a federal judge similarly blocked Trump's travel ban order—which had itself been issued in response to the courts blocking an earlier and more sweeping such order.

  1. Texas state House approves ban on ‘sanctuary cities’

    The Texas State House of Representativesm on April 27 approved a strict ban on so-called "sanctuary cities." The bill seeks to empower law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law against detainees and threatens to jail any police chiefs or sheriffs who refuse to follow federal law. The bill would allow the Texas government to withhold funding from local governments acting as sanctuary cities in order to help "keep the public safe and remove bad people from the street." There was opposition to the bill after an amendment allowed local law enforcement to inquire about federal immigration status during detainment as well as after an arrest. There is fear that this amendment could lead to a strained relationship between the community and the police. The amendment put the bill closer to the state's senate version that has been passed, however the two chambers will still need to compromise on the bill before sending it to the governor. (Jurist)

  2. Texas governor signs ‘sanctuary city’ ban

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott on May 7 signed into law a bill (SB4) banning so-called "sanctuary cities" in the state. Under the law, municipal officials who fail to assist with federal immigration enforcement could face civil penalties, removal from office and criminal charges. Abbot said the law was needed to maintain public safety in the state:

    As Governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets … It's inexcusable to release individuals from jail that have been charged with heinous crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery. There are deadly consequences to not enforcing the law, and Texas has now become a state where those practices are not tolerated. With this bill we are doing away with those that seek to promote lawlessness in Texas.

    The bill was approved by the Texas House of Representatives last month and will take effect on Sept. 1. (Jurist)

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has issed a "Texas Travel Advisory" in response to the bill's passage:

    SB4 requires Texas law enforcement to comply with the federal government’s constitutionally flawed use of detainer requests, which ask local law enforcement to hold people for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), even when they lack the legal authority to do so.

    "We plan to fight this racist and wrongheaded law in the courts and in the streets. Until we defeat it, everyone traveling in or to Texas needs to be aware of what’s in store for them," said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. "The Lone Star State will become a ‘show me your papers’ state, where every interaction with law enforcement can become a citizenship interrogation and potentially an illegal arrest."

    Between 2008 and 2012, ICE requested local law enforcement to hold 834 U.S. citizens, some of whom subsequently spent days in jail as a result. Under SB4, the state of Texas is placing the rights of its residents, including U.S. citizens, in extreme jeopardy.

    "It is simply a matter of time before illegal arrests occur. Local law enforcement will have to decide between violating a person’s rights and being severely fined, thrown in jail, or even being removed from office for choosing not to do so," said Burke.

  3. Texas civil rights group challenges ‘show me your papers’ law

    The Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) filed a lawsuit (PDF) May 22 to challenge a recently passed bill (PDF) they claim unlawfully targets immigrants. One provision of Senate Bill 4 (SB4) permits authorities to demand immigration or citizenship status from any individual suspected to be an undocumented person in an attempt to eliminate sanctuary cities. TCRP argues that this "show me your papers" law promotes racial and ethnic profiling and is unconstitutional. SB4 also criminally punishes state and local authorities that fail to enforce the provisions to a high degree and allows the Texas government to withhold funding from local governments acting as "sanctuary cities." America's Voice website reported that enforcement authorities have been strong advocates against the law because the provisions will be counterproductive to ensuring public safety. One concern is that undocumented persons will not speak up against violence or cooperate as witnesses of crimes, in fear that they will be fined, detained, or deported. Texas Governor Greg Abbott defended the law stating, "this bill ensures that there is predictability that our laws are applied without prejudice." (Jurist, May 23)

  4. Judge blocks defunding of ‘sanctuary cities’ —again

    A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled Sept. 15 that the Trump administration cannot withhold grants to so-called "sanctuary cities," issuing a nationwide injunction. Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled that the Executive Branch lacks authority to place restrictions on the grants, citing separation of powers. (Jurist)

  5. Trump admin sues California over sanctuary cities

    The US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a lawsuit March 6 against California in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California seeking declaratory judgment and injustice relief against three California immigration laws.

    The three laws at issue were enacted last year and extend protection for immigrants living in the US illegally. The White House and DoJ view them as a direct response, and obstruction, of federal immigration law that the Trump administration has put into effect, thereby violating the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.

    Specifically, these laws make it illegal for employers to voluntarily help federal agents find and detain undocumented workers, restrict local law enforcement's ability to contact immigration officials when detainees are released from custody, and creates a state inspection program for federal detention centers. (Jurist)

  6. Federal judge rules for Philadelphia in ‘sanctuary city’ case

    Judge Michael Baylson of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled June 6 that Philadelphia has the right to maintain its status as a sanctuary city while still receiving federal funding. (Jurist)

  7. Trump admin loses in court over sanctuary cities — again

    A US judge on Oct. 5 blocked the Trump Administration from placing conditions on public safety grants to further its crackdown on illegal immigration, and he ordered the grant money to be released to California "sanctuary cities." However, while Judge William Orrick in San Francisco found that the conditions placed last year on public safety grants by Attorney General Jeff Sessions were unconstitutional, he stayed a nationwide injunction pending appeal. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued the administration in August 2017. The state argued that putting the conditions on the $28 million in federal funds it expected would undermine law enforcement and deter police cooperation by immigrants. Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles have successfully sued the Trump administration over the conditions on the public safety funds, known as a Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, and those cases are pending appeal. (Reuters)

  8. Trump admin loses in court over sanctuary cities — again

    Judge Edgardo Ramos, of the US District Court in Manhattan, issued a permanent injunction on Nov. 30, blocking the Justice Department from enforcing three immigration-related conditions on grants to eight jurisdictions. This order stops short of a nationwide ban from the grants conditions, and only impacts New York City, the state of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, Washington, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. (Jurist)