Trump’s lawyer backs down on massive federal cuts for sanctuary cities

In court hearing, administration admits that feds can't force cities to become immigration cops

A lawyer for the Trump Administration told a federal judge Friday that the executive order targeting “sanctuary cities” and counties would not result in loss of massive funds to governments that refuse to comply with immigration authorities. 

City Attorney Dennis Herrera forced Trump's lawyer to back down on threats to sanctuary cities
City Attorney Dennis Herrera forced Trump’s lawyer to back down on threats to sanctuary cities. Photo by Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

City Attorney Dennis Herrera today released a statement after Judge William H. Orrick heard arguments in U.S. District Court on San Francisco’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the city’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities:

“President Trump tried to take a scorched-earth approach to immigration, and San Francisco stood up to him.San Francisco faced down this bully, and because others like Santa Clara County joined us, President Trump had to back down.”

Herrera’s office sued the president on January 31, calling the immigration executive order unconstitutional. From his statement:

“In today’s motion, San Francisco is seeking a nationwide prohibition on the Trump administration enforcing the section of the executive order that allows the federal government to withhold funding from ‘sanctuary jurisdictions.’ “

Alternatively, Herrera is asking the court to find that San Francisco complies with the law that the executive order, 8 U.S.C 1373, and could not have federal funds stripped from it on that basis.

“The Trump administration tried to hold a gun to the head of local governments across this country saying, ‘We’re going to pull the trigger unless you break the law.’ San Francisco is not going to lock people up illegally, even at the federal government’s direction,” the statement read. 

The statement from Trump’s attorneys revels that the government will not be able to follow through with its threat to cut off massive federal funding from cities that do not comply with immigration authorities. 

“The president’s lawyer also was forced to admit that only a tiny fraction of federal grants can potentially be withheld from local governments under the president’s executive order on sanctuary cities” Herrera said.

A court order will bring more clarity on whether local governments can be penalized. Statements made by Trump suggested his government would stop all federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions — aclaim that appears to be no longer relevant after lawyer told court the executive order is “narrow.”

“The president and his attorney general may be trying to use the bully pulpit to pressure cities and counties, but in court we’re showing they’re no more than just bullies,” Herrera said.

The court heard arguments in both San Francisco’s motion and a similar motion brought by Santa Clara County in a separate case. The court is expected to issue a written ruling in the future.


  • playland

    This cuts off the rationale for a city income tax. Tim Redmond must be inconsolable.

  • 4th Gen SF

    And then it goes to SCOTUS eventually…and it will prevail. Hopefully every single santimonious sanctuary city mayor, governor & bos will be jailed. That’s my hope.

    • Do Something Nice

      Yes, those with opinions different from yours should be put into concentration camps.

    • Rosh HoshHosh

      It’s good to dream big. This one has gotta be a hit to you after all that scuttlebutt you trumpeted last month.

      • 4th Gen SF

        Stay mad bro!

        • Rosh HoshHosh

          Nah, it’s Easter and I ain’t got it in me right me now. I’m just having fun.

          • 4th Gen SF

            Happy Easter!

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            Happy Easter, 4th Gen.

    • No_Diggity

      Learn to spell.

      • 4th Gen SF

        I know how to spell, I’m on my phone, queen. The c in SANCTIMONIOUS, which btw, describes you, was accidentally left off

        • Le Marquise de Sade

          I smell a Trumpster calling people names

          • 4th Gen SF

            So? You’ve already started throwing shade. I’m a PROUD SUPPORTER of President Trump.

          • Le Marquise de Sade

            You missed the point! YOU CAN SUPPORT ANYONE YOU LIKE BUT YOU DON’T NEED TO CALL SOMEONE ELSE NAMES JUST BECAUSE HE DOES. Be the adult that he is not.

          • 4th Gen SF

            Thx for reminding me. Have a nice night.

  • Don Sebastopol

    We shall see what conditions are written into future federal grants. It all depends what sanctuary really means, but if a grantee now violates federal law, funds can be withheld pending corrective action. Most federal grants have small print (boilerplate) requiring compliance with federal laws that the grantee signs. I guess the question would be is refusing to hold a criminal illegal alien for ICE a violation of any law.

    • Rosh HoshHosh

      Pretty easy question that I’m assuming you already know the answer to.

      • Don Sebastopol

        It depends on the language of the certifications the grantee signs. There is general language and then itemized certifications citing the specific laws. Even when I read grants many years ago I rarely looked at the fine print. I would suggest anyone in the City with a federal grant should read the grant. My guess is that most grantees sign without really reading them; except for major items like the statement of work and the budget.

        • Rosh HoshHosh

          There could be a push to change the law, and the Feds could threaten to withhold funds en lieu of said change, but as it stands now there is no Federal Law that requires agencies to honor an ICE detention request. No fine print is going to change that.

          • Don Sebastopol

            They could change the law and/or change the grant language. If not currently in the grants they could make it a grant condition for future grants. The City could then decide not to accept the grant with those conditions. I have not read the federal laws concerning cooperation with ICE. Do you have a citation?

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            I don’t have a citation now, but I will check it out tomorrow.

      • Don Sebastopol

        And a contract violation dispute would not be heard in federal court until it went through the administrative process that would include a ALJ hearing.

    • Geek__Girl

      Simply put, no it isn’t.

  • jhayes362

    Has it occurred to anyone that this is the first step in nationalizing local police forces? Some on the right will think that’s a good idea. I don’t.

    • Government Shrinkage

      No, this is just the first step in restoring law and order and common sense to our country. Selective enforcement of laws is not OK just because you happen to disagree with the ones not being enforced.

      Laws are there to protect people and enforce the will of the people; this is true in principle and largely in practice.

      People have decided they want to control their borders, and that they don’t want their country to look like U.N. plaza here in SF, where anyone and everyone can do pretty much whatever they like, including squat and defecate on the streets. Trump is (was?) trying to enforce that. It’s a crying shame if he’s giving up.