Santa Monica has joined Los Angeles and 32 other cities and counties across the country in asking a federal court to halt President Trump’s executive order threatening the cut-off of federal funds from so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions,” it was announced Wednesday.
The coalition filed a “friends of the court” brief in San Francisco federal court to support the county of Santa Clara’s pending lawsuit against the president, arguing the executive order is unconstitutional and that the public would suffer irreparable harm unless the order is halted nationwide.
The cities and counties argue that the executive order unfairly intrudes on the independence of local governments by threatening to withhold funding authorized by Congress if they do not follow Trump’s unilateral instructions.
The coalition maintains that the Jan. 25 order, which threatens to block federal funding for jurisdictions that fail to enforce federal immigration law, is unlawful and unconstitutional on its face.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” the order states. “These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.”
An analysis by the UCLA Undocumented Legal Services Center cites multiple reasons why the order may exceed executive authority or be deemed unconstitutional.
“The Supreme Court has ruled on several occasions that under the 10th Amendment, the federal government cannot require state sand local officials to carry out any federal regulatory program,” according to the analysis.
Congress would have to act to carry out the executive order, since it controls the federal budget.
Courts have ruled that conditions imposed on federal funds must be related to the purpose of the federal funds at stake — so, for example, holding back federal transportation dollars based on a lack of immigration enforcement might not stand up to legal scrutiny.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has said that enforcing immigration law is the federal government’s responsibility.
“My deputies will not detain or arrest any individual solely on suspicion of illegal presence in the United States,” McDonnell said in January.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has also focused on building community trust to help fight crime and said he will not break that trust by helping to deport immigrants.
Legislators in more than a half-dozen states have introduced laws inspired by the executive order that aim to block state funding to sanctuary cities.