Judge blocks part of Trump’s sanctuary cities executive order

Judge William Orrick (l) and President Donald Trump (r)

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a threat to take away funds from sanctuary cities — the latest blow from the federal judiciary to President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.

In his ruling, Judge William H. Orrick sided with Santa Clara County, the city of San Francisco and other jurisdictions, who argued that a threat to take away federal funds from cities that do not cooperate with some federal immigration enforcement could be unconstitutional.

In making the ruling apply nationwide, Orrick blocked the government from enforcing a key portion of Trump’s January executive order on immigration, which ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department to block cities who do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement from receiving federal funds.

While Orrick’s ruling does not find the policy unconstitutional, he did find that the counties and cities that challenged the law demonstrated they could face “immediate irreparable harm” if the policy were allowed to be put into place, and that their constitutional challenge could succeed once the case is fully heard.

The White House and Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

He did leave the government some wiggle room, saying that his order does not block the government from enforcing conditions on federal grants nor does it block the government from creating a definition of sanctuary jurisdictions — but the government will not be able to block federal funds from going to those cities as Trump ordered.

Orrick wrote that the jurisdictions successfully showed they “are currently suffering irreparable harm” because the order violates rights granted to states by the Constitution and because, even if the order hasn’t been carried out, it has “caused budget uncertainty” simply by threatening to take away hundreds of millions in federal funds.

“The Counties have demonstrated that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their challenge to Section 9(a) of the Executive Order, that they will suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction, and that the balance of harms and public interest weigh in their favor,” Orrick wrote.

“This is an absolutely huge win,” James Williams, counsel to Santa Clary County, told CNN. “The threat to withhold funds from state and local governments in this executive order is dead.”