Here is the preliminary injunction issued today, April 25, 2017, by U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick against the section of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13786 that threatened to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary jurisdictions”. This was one of the first executive orders issued by President Trump days after his inauguration, on January 25, 2017.
Both jurisdictions have had long-standing policies to limit their communication and cooperation with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials about individuals arrested and detained by Santa Clara and San Francisco law enforcement authorities. Federal courts have made clear that requests from ICE to continue to detain individuals in order to pursue potential federal immigration enforcement against them (“ICE detainers”) are voluntary requests that do not have to be honored by local jurisdictions. Accordingly, Santa Clara conditioned its cooperation on reimbursement from ICE for any additional detention costs for individuals ICE would want detained, and when ICE declined to provide such reimbursements, Santa Clara declined to comply with the ICE requests. San Francisco has a city policy not to expend city funds to enforce federal immigration law and so it also declines to comply with ICE requests to continue to detain individuals solely for potential immigration enforcement.
There are three federal criminal justice grant programs that are explicitly conditioned on honoring ICE detainer requests. Santa Clara does not receive those federal grant funds and San Francisco is challenging those conditions as part of its lawsuit.
However, Santa Clara County estimates that it receives a total of $1.7 billion in federal funding each fiscal year and the City and County of San Francisco estimates that it receives $1.2 billion in federal funding each fiscal year. The local jurisdictions seek relief from against the executive order’s threat against all this federal funding. The Court ruled that the local jurisdictions had standing to seek the preliminary injunction and were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims.
The court notes statements by President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer characterizing the executive order as a “weapon”, to “claw back” federal funds already awarded, and its clear intent to specifically defund California cities such as San Francisco. This is yet another case in which the statements of the President and his key staff have been used to support an injunction against one of his executive orders.
The court ruled:
“The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds. Further, the Tenth Amendment requires that conditions on federal funds be unambiguous and timely made; that they bear some relation to the funds at issue; and that the total financial incentive not be coercive. 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.”