One of President Trump’s key campaign promises has just been halted by U.S. District Judge William Orrick. The controversial move to withhold parts of funding from areas that declare themselves Sanctuary Cities was temporarily halted back in April much to the annoyance of Trump supporters. But now the decision has been made permanent.
The case began when San Francisco and Santa Clara County sued the Federal government on the basis that it could lose out on up to $2 billion in funding.
The provision that would have allowed the government to hold back funds to cities that do not comply fully with immigration enforcement has been called unconstitutional by the judge. His written statement made it clear that this would enjoin the provision nationwide:
“The defendants are permanently enjoined from enforcing Section 9(a) of the Executive Order against jurisdictions they deem as sanctuary jurisdictions. Because Section 9(a) is unconstitutional on its face, and not simply in its application to the plaintiffs here, a nationwide injunction against the defendants other than President Trump is appropriate.”
The basis of the government’s argument was that the withholding of funds was not new legislation, but rather an enforcement of existing laws. And that, in fact, it was the municipalities that were actually breaking the law by not complying with detainer requests and denying immigration enforcement officers the cooperation needed to carry out their jobs.
The government stated that the Judge was interpreting the Executive order in a far broader way than it was intended and that he was making extrapolations where none existed. A DOJ spokesman, Devin O’Malley, said in response:
“The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law. The Justice Department will vindicate the President’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”
The decision to crack down on Sanctuary Cities is actually a popular one among voters of all stripes. Despite media coverage suggesting the opposite, places where criminals are treated lightly in sentencing to avoid deportation measures, where criminals with no right to be in the country in the first place are protected, are deeply unpopular. The fact that Sanctuary Cities are suffering an exodus of the working population for places with less crime and lower taxes is not just a coincidence.
The government will appeal the decision of Judge Orrick almost immediately and begin a campaign that highlights how Sanctuary Cities impact the whole of the United States. They will likely point out how criminals protected by the cities are not confined to them, and are in fact, free to roam around the country when their sentence is up.
This will not be solved soon, and it might yet make a solid platform for Republicans to campaign on in 2018.