(Associated Press photo)
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked an order by President Donald Trump to withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities, marking yet another defeat to the beleaguered administration.
In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick said that Trump cannot change the rules for funds already approved by Congress.
Orrick in April issued a preliminary injunction against Trump’s order, which was sought by San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.
“The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law,” Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement on Monday. “The Justice Department will vindicate the President’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”
On Nov. 22, Watsonville was one of 29 jurisdictions that received letters from U.S. Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson, in which he threatened to withhold Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants.
For Watsonville, that would have been a loss of $40,000, which would be used to purchase body cameras for police officers and crime analyst tools.
The Trump administration lambasted the ruling in a statement on Monday, accusing the court of ignoring federal immigration policy.
“Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation,” the statement read.
The statement referred to the ongoing trial in San Francisco against Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the undocumented immigrant accused of shooting Kate Steinle to death in 2015.
Ines had been deported five times before the shooting, and was released instead of being deported.
“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 statement read.
The Trump administration has appealed the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.