sanctuary city, anti-immigrant order, donald trump immigration, president trump immigration, immigration policy, illegal immigrants
Immigrant-rights advocates protest near the U.S.-Mexico border on April 21. Photo: Reuters

A federal judge in California has blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order seeking to withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities that protect undocumented immigrants.

The Tuesday ruling from U.S. District Judge William Orrick III in San Francisco said Trump's order targeted broad categories of federal funding for sanctuary governments, and that plaintiffs challenging the order were likely to succeed in proving it unconstitutional.

The judge's ruling "basically bars the federal government from enforcing the exec order against any town or county that it deems to be a sanctuary jurisdiction,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal of the Boston-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. 

The Lawyers Committee is representing the cities of Lawrence and Chelsea  two Massachusetts sanctuary cities in a similar suit challenging the constitutionality of Trump’s executive order.


Tuesday’s ruling was issued in response to a joint suit by San Francisco and Santa Clara County, but Espinoza-Madrigal said the ruling would apply nationwide.

“This relief is very broad in scope,” he said. “It essentially means that other sanctuary communities… will have the benefit of this relief, which means the federal government cannot enforce this executive order against them and deprive them of federal resources and funding.”

Dozens of communities around the country had filed lawsuits against Trump and the federal government in response to the Jan. 25 executive order, titled, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”

The order included a provision stating that sanctuary jurisdictions that "willfully refuse to comply" with federal immigration laws by allowing cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration officials would be denied federal funds.

Espinoza-Madrigal called the judgment against the order a “tremendous victory for sanctuary cities across the country.” He added that it show “that cities and counties can continue to protect immigrant families and children within their communities despite what President Trump threatens or says.”

It's unclear exactly how much funding sanctuary cities could have lost under Trump's executive order, considering Congress has final approval on most budget items. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however has made repeated threats to withhold grant money from communities with sanctuary policies, which Boston, New York and Philadelphia all have.

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