A federal judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump’s order to withhold federal funding from local jurisdictions that have promised to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The preliminary injunction by Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Santa Clara and San Francisco counties that claims Trump’s executive order is vague and unconstitutional.
Orrick’s ruling bars the federal government from cutting funds to counties, cities, towns, states and possibly schools that have declared themselves sanctuaries or “safe havens” for immigrants. At least 57 school districts in California have passed resolutions to protect undocumented immigrants, although not all have used the term “sanctuary” and the protections vary from district to district.
Orrick’s ruling, which goes into effect immediately, applies nationwide, not just to Santa Clara and San Francisco counties. The federal government can appeal the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We’re delighted and gratified,” said William Freeman, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in San Francisco, which represented the YWCA of Silicon Valley after it joined the lawsuit originally filed by the two counties. “This is a significant ruling that vindicates the rights of cities and states and counties to manage their own affairs. … It’s a big victory for the constitution.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who filed court briefs supporting the lawsuit and has urged districts throughout California to pass safe haven resolutions, said he was elated with the ruling.
“This (ruling) helps protect California’s public school students, including undocumented students,” he said. “California schools should be safe for students and parents, and this takes a step in that direction.”
According to a recent brief by Education Trust–West, about one in eight students in California schools have at least one parent who is undocumented. In declaring themselves sanctuaries or safe havens, school boards have cited rising fear among immigrant children and their families due to the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and an increase in deportations.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also filed a brief supporting the suit.
“My office has been clear: we will not compromise our values to accommodate the new administration, which seeks to hijack crucial resources, sow fear among California families and make our communities less safe,” he said. “This injunction is consistent with the rule of law. In California, we will always fight to protect our people.”