A federal judge in San Francisco dealt the Trump administration another legal blow Tuesday, temporarily halting President Donald Trump’s threat to withhold federal funding from cities and towns that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick imposed a nationwide injunction against a Jan. 25 executive order authorizing the attorney general to withhold federal grant money from what are called sanctuary jurisdictions that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration officials.
Orrick called the order “broad” and “vague” and said the plaintiffs, the city of San Francisco and Santa Clara County, were likely to succeed on the merits of lawsuits challenging it.
In the 49-page ruling, Orrick pointed to discrepancies in the Trump administration’s interpretation of the executive order. In court, the government’s lawyers suggested that cities and towns were overreacting to the order because federal officials have not yet defined sanctuary cities or moved to withhold funding from them.
But on television and in news conferences, the judge pointed out, the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have threatened to sanction cities and towns that do not cooperate with immigration officials, leaving local officials nationwide fearful that they will lose funding for vital services.
“The result of this schizophrenic approach to the Order is that the Counties’ worst fears are not allayed and the Counties reasonably fear enforcement under the Order,” the judge wrote.
“The threat of the Order and the uncertainty it is causing impermissibly interferes with the Counties’ ability to operate, to provide key services, to plan for the future, and to budget.”
So another order not only stopped by the courts, but stopped in part because the judge hearing the motion paid attention to what Trump and his minions had been saying about it. Justice doesn’t get much more poetic than that. This happened a day before the House began debate on its version of the “sanctuary cities” bill. That debate lasted well into the night, and promised to be hotly contested and highly emotional, with the bill eventually passing because it’s something Republicans will vote for. And then eventually, it too will be challenged in court. One hopes it will meet the same fate.