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Oakland Urges Judge to Block Trump Plan To Defund Sanctuary Cities

Oakland Urges Judge to Block Trump Plan To Defund Sanctuary Cities
President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on January 28. (Photo: White House)
By Scott Morris - Published on March 24, 2017.

Oakland and Alameda County joined 33 other cities and counties nationwide on Thursday in making a statement of support in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s executive order to pull federal funding from "sanctuary cities," municipalities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

The 34 cities — including Berkeley, East Palo Alto, and San Rafael — all signed on to an amicus brief in the case of Santa Clara County v. Trump. Other cities that signed on include Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver. San Francisco filed its own lawsuit in January and Richmond filed one this week.

They are urging U.S. District Judge William Orrick to issue an injunction blocking Trump’s January 25 order, which calls for federal employees to withhold grants and federal funds from sanctuary districts, except for what is “deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes.” 

After the order was issued, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf estimated that it could cost Oakland up to $130 million.  

“At this point, only sixty-two days into this administration, it should be crystal clear to Americans in every state, including many who voted for Trump, that this president is a vindictive, morally corrupt and unstable person who is unfit to hold our country’s highest and most powerful office,” said Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker.

“The promise to defund child care, housing, medical and other vital programs of sanctuary cities like Oakland that adopt common-sense law enforcement policies would undermine public health and public safety, making our communities less safe,” Parker said.

The brief argues that Trump’s attempt at coercing local governments into enforcing federal immigration law is an unconstitutional overreach that would rob local agencies’ discretion to set their own public safety priorities.

Decades of experience have led many jurisdictions to conclude that local law enforcement can be hindered if they are seen as agents of federal immigration law by deterring victims and witnesses from cooperating with investigations. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 300 municipalities in the US have sanctuary policies.

The term is vague; different jurisdictions have different levels of cooperation with federal agents. Last month, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said he didn't" have a clue" when asked to define a sanctuary city.

Despite the city's sanctuary status, relationships between Oakland police and federal agencies have come under increased scrutiny since the inauguration of the Trump Administration, including a task force agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement signed in January.

A hearing on whether to grant a nationwide injunction against enforcement of Trump's order to defund Sanctuary Cities is scheduled for April 5 in San Francisco.