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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 24, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 47
Federal court strikes down Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities
Section One
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Federal court strikes down Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities

DOJ had threatened Seattle and King County

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A US District permanently struck down one of Donald Trump's first executive orders on November 20, the one which sought to cut off federal funds to so-called 'sanctuary cities.'

In a summary judgment ruling, US District Judge William Orrick III found that Trump's January 25 executive order violated the US Constitution by invoking spending powers that belong exclusively to Congress, and by placing unrelated conditions on federal grants in violation of the Tenth Amendment.

'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 wrote in a 28-page ruling.

Orrick had previously stayed the executive order in April after San Francisco and Santa Clara County filed separate lawsuits against the presidential directive.

'This is a victory for the American people and the rule of law,' San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a November 20 statement. 'This executive order was unconstitutional before the ink on it was even dry.'

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) warned Seattle on November 15 that its 'sanctuary city' policy may be in violation of federal law and could result in cancellation of federal grants that help pay for law enforcement.

In response, Mayor-elect Jenny Durkan issued a strongly worded statement vowing that 'our City will fight Trump every step of the way' to defend City policy.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Council President Joe McDermott received the same warning from the DOJ.

Since the Trump administration assumed power in January, it has been US government policy to arrest and deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible, and to threaten uncooperative cities with the loss of federal funds.

In its latest letter, the DOJ expressed 'concern' about Seattle's policy and threatened to cancel federal funding for three civilian crime prevention specialists in Seattle's police department.

'This action is both immoral and illegal,' Durkan said in a November 15 statement.

'It threatens the safety not just of our immigrant families but of all of Seattle, which relies on the police resources they seek to cut. Unfortunately for the Trump administration, multiple federal judges have ruled that the Department of Justice cannot withhold federal law enforcement aid to sanctuary cities. Seattle is and will continue to be a sanctuary city, and our City will fight Trump every step of the way against these illegal attempts to withhold funds. I'll say it again: Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump, keep your hands off Seattle.'

Seattle stands to lose as much as $85 million out of its $5 billion budget if the federal government decides to back up Trump's threats by withdrawing funds. San Francisco receives $1.2 billion in annual federal aid and $800 million in multiyear grants, while Santa Clara County relies on $1.7 billion each year to fund essential services, including public health and child protective services.

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