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Court Strikes Executive Order to Withhold Money From Sanctuary Cities

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 26, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal judge handed President Trump another loss in his battle against sanctuary cities.

Judge Richard Jones said Trump's executive order to withhold funding from Seattle and Portland was unconstitutional. It was the second time in three months that a federal court has struck the president's order.

"Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States" was the name of the order. "Unconstitutional" was the ruling in City of Seattle v. Trump.

"Public Safety"

Declaring a political war on immigrants, Trump stumped on his campaign for the White House that he would tighten borders. He signed the "public safety" order, as well as a travel ban, days after his inauguration.

The anti-sanctuary order gave government officials the power to withhold federal grants from cities that did not cooperate with immigration enforcement. Many municipalities refused, saying they would not detain people based on their immigration status alone.

"Seattle will not be bullied by this White House or this administration," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said at the time. Joined by Portland, the cities sued Trump in March 2017.

Judge Jones said it would be unconstitutional to withhold appropriated funds that Congress has not tied to compliance with immigration laws.

Similar Rulings

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reached the same conclusion in August.

"Absent congressional authorization, the administration may not redistribute or withhold properly appropriated funds in order to effectuate its own policy goals," Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote.

In that sanctuary case, California won. Chicago and Philadelphia have prevailed in similar battles.

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