A federal appeals court has ruled that President Donald Trump exercised executive overreach when he signed an executive order threatening to withhold funds from “sanctuary cities” if they don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials. The decision, issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, only applies to California, which is home to several “sanctuary cities” and counties. Nonetheless the court decision was a small victory for the Trump administration, as a 2 to 1 court vote lifted the nationwide ban against the implementation of the 2017 executive order.
The ruling is a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to punish cities and states that fail to help enforce federal immigration law.
JUST IN: On 2-1 vote, 9th Circuit affirms lower court ruling halting any efforts to pull federal funding under Trump’s sanctuary cities executive order, but ends nationwide injunction, limiting the injunction to the challengers. https://t.co/srSyD1OF6k pic.twitter.com/IucoEdl8it
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) August 1, 2018
The case stemmed from an executive order issued by President Trump shortly after taking office last year. He directed his administration to withhold federal funds from “sanctuary cities.” The 9th Circuit said Trump exceeded his authority because only Congress can put conditions on federal funds.
“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.
The decision is a victory for immigration advocates in their ongoing battle with the Trump administration.
— The Salt Lake Tribune (@sltrib) August 2, 2018
The Trump administration has repeatedly argued that “sanctuary cities” and states allow dangerous criminals to live among law-abiding citizens. However, immigrant communities have been proven to have lower crime rates. City officials in San Francisco say turning local police into immigration officers erases trust needed to get people to report crime.
Members of Congress are calling the threat to defund sanctuary cities politically motivated.
Yesterday a judge rejected the Trump Administration’s cynical attempt to withhold money from sanctuary cities. The President keeps going to court on immigration, and he keeps losing, which is a big win for the United States.
— Dick Durbin (@DickDurbin) August 2, 2018
“Put simply, the president cannot use the threat of defunding as a weapon to force local governments to abandon politics that make their communities safer,” Counsel James R. Williams told The Boston Herald.
California state Sen. Kevin de León echoed the same response saying the Trump administration cannot overrule the courts ruling.
Hundreds of cities, counties and states have become sanctuary jurisdictions to preserve the integrity of their communities.
— CALmatters (@CALmatters) August 2, 2018
The term “sanctuary city” is used to refer to local jurisdictions (not just cities but counties and sometimes states) that don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials to find and deport unauthorized immigrants. According to The Ohio Jobs & Justice Political Action Committee, there is an estimated 500 jurisdictions that are sanctuary cities in the U.S.
The battle for “sanctuary cities” is far from over and it is immigrant communities that are at most risk.
— ReachScale (@ReachScale) August 2, 2018
Last month, a federal judge in Sacramento largely rejected a challenge by the Trump administration of three statewide California sanctuary laws. In April, a federal judge in Los Angeles sided with the city in a ruling that said the administration could not consider sanctuary policies in parsing out police grants. While the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on the sanctuary policies, many believe that is where this case is heading. The Trump administration has yet to comment on whether it intends to appeal the decision.