San Francisco Federal Judge Permanently Blocks Trump’s Sanctuary Cities Executive Order

On November 20, 2017, a federal judge in San Francisco enjoined Trump’s executive order that tried to cut funding to so-called sanctuary cities, one more legal hurdle to Trump administration’s efforts to increase deportations. US District Judge William Orrick called Trump’s order “unconstitutional on its face.” The executive order threatened to terminate federal law enforcement grants from cities that did not cooperate with the Trump administration in its arrest campaigns.

In particular, Judge Orrick granted the Counties’ motions for summary judgment on the executive order to permanently enjoin Section 9(a) of the executive order. He held, “The Counties have demonstrated that the Executive Order has caused and will cause them constitutional injuries by violating the separation of powers doctrine and depriving them of their Tenth and Fifth Amendment rights.” He also concluded, “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.”

Sanctuary city is not an actual legal term and is broadly defined as one that limits cooperation with federal immigration authorities, including barring local police from asking about a person’s immigration status or refusing to deliver undocumented immigrants being held in jails (detainers). In Lunn v. Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that local law enforcement officials do not have authority under state law to detain a person solely on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer.

Courts in Philadelphia and Chicago have similarly found the executive order defunding sanctuary cities as unconstitutional.