Judge Blocks Order Withholding Funding from Sanctuary Jurisdictions

The White House has sharply criticized a U.S. federal judge’s ruling blocking a directive from President Donald Trump to withhold funding from sanctuary jurisdictions – those that limit their cooperation with U.S. immigration agents.

“San Francisco, and cities like it, are putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens, and those city officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands,” the White House said in a statement late Tuesday.

The reaction came hours after U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued a temporary ruling that will remain in effect while a lawsuit over a provision in a Trump executive order makes its way through the court. The January 25 executive order called for federal funding to be withheld from sanctuary jurisdictions, and the judge said the president cannot put new conditions on money already allocated by Congress.

“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 said.

The judge was careful to specify that his order does not prevent DOJ from enforcing “existing conditions of federal grants.” 

The White House statement said Orrick’s decision is “yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.”

The Trump administration has similarly objected to federal court orders suspending enforcement of the president’s executive orders to suspend the nation’s refugee program and prohibit the issuance of new visas to people from a group of majority-Muslim countries.A federal appeals court is due to hear one of those cases next month.

“We are confident we will ultimately prevail in the Supreme Court, just as we will prevail in our lawful efforts to impose immigration restrictions necessary to keep terrorists out of the United States,” the White House said Tuesday.

The statement further cast the battle as one “between the rule of law and lawlessness, and between hardworking Americans and those who would undermine their safety and freedom.

San Francisco and neighboring Santa Clara County argued that the executive order jeopardized billions of dollars in federal funding.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice said the amount of funding was much less and pertained to a specific set of grants.

Last week, U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions sent a letter to 10 sanctuary jurisdictions, directing them to submit a letter certifying that they are in compliance with immigration law. The jurisdictions have until June 30 to respond. 

After a meeting with mayors Tuesday, Sessions issued a statement saying that one jurisdiction has already responded. “We will evaluate those responses to ensure the requirements of these grants are met,” Sessions said in a statement issued before the court ruling.

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