The Trump administration on Friday lost another attempt to block states’ so-called sanctuary laws when a federal judge struck down conditions the U.S. Department of Justice placed on law enforcement grants.
In siding with attorneys for the city of San Francisco and the state, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III of California’s Northern District said federal mandates that local agencies cooperate with federal immigration officials to receive crime-fighting money violate separation of powers and congressional spending authority provisions in the Constitution.
Orrick noted that his findings were “in agreement with every court that has looked at these issues.”
The U.S. Department of Justice “fails to explain adequately the reasons it imposed the challenged conditions,” Orrick wrote. “Its own justifications cannot ‘be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise’; the record demonstrates the lack of evidence supporting its position, that it failed to consider important problems with its conditions and has repeatedly offered explanations that are counter to the evidence.”
Orrick issued—but then put on hold—a nationwide injunction barring enforcement of the grant conditions “until the Ninth Circuit is able to address it in the normal course on appeal.”
The ruling is the latest blow to federal efforts to stop cities, counties and states from limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement officials.
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a separate ruling by Orrick blocking President Donald Trump’s executive order to cut grant funding from sanctuary cities and states. In July, a federal judge in Sacramento upheld most of California’s newly enacted statutes aimed at shielding undocumented immigrants. The cities of Philadelphia and Chicago have also successfully challenged the Justice Department’s grant-limiting policies.
“The Trump administration should spend less time villainizing immigrants and more time reading the Constitution,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. “Congress has the power of the purse, not the president. These unconstitutional grant conditions were yet another example of presidential overreach.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said last year that the grant conditions the Justice Department sought to impose would put $28.3 million in law enforcement funding at risk statewide.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Orrick’s ruling is posted below: