In a blow to efforts by President Donald Trump to crack down on jurisdictions that protect immigrants illegally in the United States, a federal judge in California has issued a nationwide injunction against a plan to withhold federal dollars going to sanctuary cities, dealing the White House another legal setback on a Trump executive action.
"The threat is unconstitutionally coercive," wrote federal judge William Orrick, who ruled that the Executive had overstepped his authority with this order.
"The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds," Orrick added.
"Given the nationwide scope of the Order, and its apparent constitutional flaws, a nationwide injunction is appropriate," ruled the judge, who was nominated for the federal bench by President Barack Obama.
The decision was based in part on a ruling about the Obama health law - the Affordable Care Act - which the U.S. Supreme Court found went too far in threatening to withhold Medicaid funding from certain states.
"The Executive Order threatens to deny sanctuary jurisdictions all federal grants, hundreds of millions of dollars on which the Counties rely," the ruling read.
The ruling represented yet another legal setback in the courts for the Trump Administration, which has seen legal obstacles block the President's efforts to place new limits on refugees and foreign travelers.
Late on Tuesday night, the White House responded to the ruling by denouncing the actions of an "unelected" federal judge.
"This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge," said Press Secretary Sean Spicer in a written statement.
Here is the statement released by the White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2017
Office of the Press Secretary
Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation. Federal law explicitly states that “a Federal, State or Local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.” 8 U.S.C. 1373(a). That means, according to Congress, a city that prohibits its officials from providing information to federal immigration authorities -- a sanctuary city -- is violating the law. Sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, block their jails from turning over criminal aliens to Federal authorities for deportation. These cities are engaged in the dangerous and unlawful nullification of Federal law in an attempt to erase our borders.
Once again, a single district judge -- this time in San Francisco -- has ignored Federal immigration law to set a new immigration policy for the entire country. This decision occurred in the same sanctuary city that released the 5-time deported illegal immigrant who gunned down innocent Kate Steinle in her father's arms. 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. This San Francisco judge's erroneous ruling is a gift to the criminal gang and cartel element in our country, empowering the worst kind of human trafficking and sex trafficking, and putting thousands of innocent lives at risk.
This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge. Today’s ruling undermines faith in our legal system and raises serious questions about circuit shopping. But 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.
In the meantime, we will pursue all legal remedies to the sanctuary city threat that imperils our citizens, and continue our efforts to ramp up enforcement to remove the criminal and gang element from our country. Ultimately, this is a fight between sovereignty and open borders, between the rule of law and lawlessness, and between hardworking Americans and those who would undermine their safety and freedom.
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