San Francisco judge to hear landmark motion against Trump policy defunding sanctuary cities.
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick has scheduled a hearing on Friday on San Francisco’s request for a court order blocking the Trump administration from cutting off funds to any of the nation’s so-called sanctuary cities.
Santa Clara County about 50 miles south of San Francisco is also asking Orrick to block the president’s order. The judge has asked the county to make its arguments at the same time as San Francisco.
The administration has not suspended any funding yet, but the two local governments say the order is making it difficult for them to plan their budgets.
“We have to prepare for the worst,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
Orrick, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2012, is not expected to issue a ruling on Friday.
The sanctuary city order was among a flurry of immigration measures the president signed in January, including a ban on travelers from seven majority Muslim countries and a border security directive calling for a wall with Mexico.
A federal appeals court blocked the travel ban. The administration then revised it, although the new version is also stalled in court.
The sanctuary city order directs the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to ensure that local governments that refuse to provide people’s immigration status to federal authorities are not eligible for federal grants except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes.
The Trump administration says sanctuary cities allow dangerous criminals back on the street, and the president’s order is needed to keep the country safe. San Francisco and other sanctuary cities say turning local police into immigration officers erodes trust that’s needed to get people to report crime.
The order has also prompted lawsuits by Seattle, two Massachusetts cities, Lawrence and Chelsea, and a third San Francisco Bay Area government, the City of Richmond, though none of those cases has received a court hearing yet.
San Francisco, the first city to challenge the order in court, says the president does not have authority over federal funds and cannot force local officials to enforce federal immigration law.
San Francisco argues that the order also appears to apply to local governments that don’t detain immigrants for possible deportation when they are due for release from jail.
The Department of Justice said in court documents the city’s lawsuit was premature because decisions about withholding funds have yet to be made. It also stressed that that order referred to grants, not all federal funding, and was consistent with existing government authority to revoke or deny such money.