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San Francisco Federal Court Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Against “Sanctuary City” Portion of Executive Order

April 27, 2017|Contributed by: Courtney E. Butler, Esq.

A federal district court judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of President Trump’s executive order targeting “sanctuary cities.” This is the second successful legal challenge to Trump’s executive order, after several federal court injunctions were issued against the travel ban that targeted citizens of seven primarily Muslim countries.

The term “sanctuary city” is commonly used to describe cities that limit the involvement of their police officials with federal immigration enforcement.  President Trump’s executive order threatened to withhold federal funding from cities that implement such a policy, contending that such efforts harm public safety and prevent deportation of those unlawfully present in the United States.  Cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles have promised to fight the executive order.  Although varying in their degree of willingness to label themselves as sanctuary cities, Boulder, Denver, and Aurora have promised not to require local police to enforce federal immigration laws.

The court decision, issued by Judge William H. Orrick, finds that the executive order is likely unconstitutional because it is too vague. It also finds that the order likely violates the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, as it would deprive cities from federal funds that are rightly theirs.  Finally, the decision finds that the executive order likely violates the separation of powers provision found in the Tenth Amendment.

Other lawsuits regarding the sanctuary city portion of President Trump’s executive order are pending in cities in Massachusetts, Washington, and elsewhere in California.