As Trump approaches the 100 day mark, his administration has received yet another blow in its efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. On Tuesday, April 25, a federal judge in California blocked Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities.
The order sought to deny federal funding to so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions that have vowed to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.
San-Francisco-based U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick, who was appointed by President Obama, ordered a nationwide preliminary injunction that will block enforcement of the executive order. The injunction will prevent the Trump administration from withholding federal funds from the over 300 local governments that have limited their cooperation with federal immigration officials.
“The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds,” Orrick wrote. “Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.”
Orrick added that the executive order, which Trump signed during his first week in office, violates the Fifth Amendment because the vague phrasing would deprive localities of funds that are rightfully theirs.
Furthermore, Trump’s order failed to clarify exactly what the administration defines as a “sanctuary city,” which has created confusion amongst local officials who need to determine whether or not their funding is at risk. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for for the Department of Homeland Security stated that a definition hasn’t been “finalized” and the department won’t cut any grants until the term is clarified.
"Today's decision is a historic affirmation of the U.S. Constitution's core principles — that the President cannot usurp powers not given to him, and that the federal government cannot use federal defunding to coerce local governments into becoming federal immigration enforcers," Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said.
As Trump scrambles to secure at least one “victory” during his first 100 days in office, Orrick’s order is an important reminder that America’s judicial branch will be crucial to blocking future executive orders that potentially violate the Constitution.