Federal judge rules Trump defunding sanctuary cities ‘unconstitutional on its face’

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A federal court on Monday blocked President Trump’s executive order halting certain federal funds for so-called sanctuary cities, calling it “unconstitutional on its face.” 

“The defendants are permanently enjoined from enforcing Section 9(a) of the Executive Order against jurisdictions they deem as sanctuary jurisdictions. Because Section 9(a) is unconstitutional on its face, and not simply in its application to the plaintiffs here, a nationwide injunction against the defendants other than President Trump is appropriate,” U.S. District Judge William Orrick ruled.

The injunction comes after Orrick issued a temporary ruling in late April that blocked Trump’s directive to withhold some federal funding from cities that refuse to comply fully with federal immigration enforcement, siding with San Francisco and Santa Clara County.


The California municipalities had sued over the order, arguing that more than $2 billion in federal funding could be at stake.

Orrick, who was appointed by former President Obama, made his April decision permanent on Monday.

The Department of Justice slammed the decision in a statement, claiming the court overstepped its authority.

“The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law. The Justice Department will vindicate the President’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch,” said spokesman Devin O’Malley.

In a statement about his ruling on the case, Orrick dismissed the federal government’s argument that the “the Executive Order was meant to be far more narrow than I interpreted it, a mere directive to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice that does not seek to place any new conditions on federal funds.”

“I concluded that the County of Santa Clara and the City and County of San Francisco had pre-enforcement standing to protect hundreds of millions of dollars of federal grants from the unconstitutionally broad sweep of the Executive Order,” Orrick wrote.

USA Today reporter Brad Heath first highlighted the court ruling.

Updated at 11:10 p.m.

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