Judge Cannot Block President Trump’s Defunding of Sanctuary Cities
President Donald Trump’s executive order threatening to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that limit cooperation with immigration authorities is unconstitutional, but a judge went too far when he blocked its enforcement nationwide, a US appeals court ruled Wednesday.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the order exceeded the President’s authority.
“Absent congressional authorization, the administration may not redistribute or withhold properly appropriated funds in order to effectuate its own policy goals,” Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote for the majority.
He also said there was not enough evidence to support a nationwide ban on the order and sent the case back to the lower court for more hearings on that question.
An e-Mail to a spokesman for the US Justice Department was not immediately returned.
The ruling came in lawsuits filed by 2 California counties:San Francisco and Santa Clara. The executive order potentially jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to the 2 counties.
The Trump Administration said the order applied to a relatively small amount money that already required compliance with immigration law.
Government attorney Chad Readler told the court that the order applied to only 3 Justice Department and Homeland Security grants that would affect less than $1-M for Santa Clara and possibly no money for San Francisco.
During arguments before the 9th Circuit in April, Thomas asked what the court was supposed to make of statements by President Trump and his administration about wanting to withhold money from sanctuary cities.
The executive order is part of a push by The Trump Administration to crack down on cities and states that generally do not comply with US immigration authorities.
The administration has sued California over 3 laws aimed at protecting immigrants in the country illegally. It also has moved to block a Key public safety grant from going to sanctuary cities and states.
The Trump Administration says sanctuary jurisdictions allow dangerous criminals back on the street. San Francisco and other sanctuary cities say turning local police into immigration officers erodes the trust needed to get people to report crime.
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