April 25, 2017

Judge blocks Trump’s sanctuary city executive order

Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump at CPAC in 2011. Flickr cc

The Donald Trump administration suffered another setback in federal court over an executive order after a federal judge ruled Tuesday the administration cannot enforce an order to stop funds from going to so-called “sanctuary cities.”

The lawsuit, brought by cities including San Francisco, Santa Clara and later joined by the city of Santa Fe said the executive order is unconstitutional and granted a nationwide injunction, which blocks the order from going into effect anywhere in the country.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales said in a statement the ruling was an indication that the federal government wasn’t listening to local governments.

“Rather than listening to cities, the closest governments to the people, and working with us to fix a badly broken federal immigration system or institute trade and immigration policies that benefit the centers of innovation that are driving this country’s economy, President Trump has opted to declare war on us,” he said. “And that’s a shame.”

Gonzales has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the sanctuary city executive order and rhetoric from the Trump administration.

“Our city’s history going back 400 years and the success and vibrancy we enjoy today has depended on it, and those are the values that won in court today,” the mayor said. “The day we give in to the fear, the divisiveness, the dangerous message that we have to hate anyone who is different from us—that is the day we lose the thing most sacred to Santa Fe.”

The federal government said, according to the decision written by Judge William H. Orrick, that the executive order “is merely an exercise of the President’s ‘bully pulpit’ to highlight a changed approach to immigration enforcement.”

The judge said “this interpretation renders the Order toothless.” Orrick added that the Trump administration’s “new interpretation of the Order is not legally plausible.”

Orrick noted that spending powers are allotted to Congress by the U.S. Constitution, so an executive order “cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds.” The judge went on to highlight how the executive order violated the 10th Amendment, which, among other things, requires “that the total financial incentive not be coercive.”

Orrick did say that the government can still “enforce existing conditions of federal grants or the federal law that outlines what local governments can do when contacted by the federal government over immigration requests.

The ruling came just before the Trump administration’s first 100 days in office ends this weekend—and as Trump seeks to find a victory to tout. The first 100 days of an administration is usually seen as a time to look back at an administration’s early accomplishments.

This is the second major executive order Trump signed that was blocked by courts. A previous executive order, which barred travel from several majority-Muslim countries, also was rejected by a federal court as unconstitutional—as was a second, similar but more limited executive order.