President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration suffered another legal setback when a federal judge blocked an attempt by the U.S. president to deny sanctuary cities funding over their failure to cooperate with regards to enforcing federal immigration laws. The preliminary injunction was issued by Judge William Orrick.
The injunction will now prevent federal officials from effecting part of an executive order Trump signed in his first week in office. In that order Trump had directed that grants that are given to local governments be withheld if those localities failed to assist federal authorities to locate and detain immigrants who are undocumented.
Orrick in his ruling cited comments that had been made by Trump as well as by Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Attorney General, to reach the conclusion that the executive order was intended to be broader than federal law allowed. The judge expressed doubts that the U.S. president’s goal was to comply with the law as it currently is.
“If there was doubt about the scope of the Order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments. The Constitution vests the spending power in Congress, not the President,” wrote Orrick.
The district judge’s ruling was in response to lawsuits that had been filed by Santa Clara County and City of San Francisco. There are a couple of other similar lawsuits that are pending but because Orrick’s injunction will apply to the whole of the United States, the other suits will be moot for now.
The ruling by the district judge deals another blow to efforts by Trump to make use of executive orders as a policy-making tool. Other executive orders that have been blocked by the courts include one which banned travel from countries that were majority Muslim. While the Trump administration did not explicitly state it as a ‘Muslim ban’, comments that the president had made while on the campaign trail to that effect served to work against him.
After the ruling Reince Priebus, the Chief of Staff of the White House, revealed the decision would be appealed saying that any administration had the right to impose restrictions on how federal grants are spent. A statement issued by the White House also harshly condemned the ruling saying that it undermined the faith of the citizenry in the legal system. The judge’s actions were also branded an overreach. The White House expressed confidence that it would be victorious once the matter reached the U.S. Supreme Court.