Decades before the Trump regime, and years before Sanctuary Cities were necessary and chic, San Francisco passed the City and County of Refuge ordinance in 1989. The law prohibited city employees from using city funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement from executing federal immigration law.
Four years ago, the city added to its sanctuary law by passing the Due Process for All ordinance. The 2013 update limited when San Francisco police can notify ICE of a person’s release from jail and prohibits police from arresting persons with ICE detainer requests (a detainer is similar to an arrest warrant for someone already incarcerated). The law was further amended last year to broaden the scope of sanctuary considerations from solely criminal concerns to civil questions.
Pursuant to the July 2016 revisions, San Francisco does not ask for immigration status for city benefits or services and will not limit city benefits or services because of immigration status. The city has opened its doors and hearts to the world, identifying its residents as global citizens instead of merely Americans. It was a bold move that Donald Trump sought to punish the city and its residents for when he took office.
Five days after Donald Trump pretended to take an oath to uphold the constitution, he issued an Executive Order No. 13,768 titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” (82 Fed. Reg. 8799, 01/25/17) Therein, Trump implemented an executive policy to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities and states and to take law enforcement action against any state or local entity that “hinders the enforcement of federal law.” Trump’s executive order was the first of many unilateral dictates that he thought could be issued without regard for the rule of law.
San Francisco fired back within a week. The city filed suit in federal court to block the order because it “strikes at the heart of established principles of federalism and violates the United States Constitution.” The city received temporary relief from the federal court in April.
On Monday, the United States District Court for Northern California found for the plaintiffs and the city of San Francisco and issued a permanent injunction barring the Trump regime from withholding federal funds. The court determined that Trump acted beyond the scope of his constitutional authority and that his intention was corrupted and unduly coercive.
It figures, if anyone on earth could weaponize money…it would have to be Donald Trump.
In a twisted bit of irony, District Court Judge William H. Orrick relied on Trump’s own words to arrive at his opinion. The court cited a Trump interview with former Trump BFF Bill O’Reilly that aired on Fox News Network on 5 February 2017. During his usual incoherent rambling with O’Reilly, Trump affirmed the city’s case in one sentence when he replied to a question about defunding sanctuary cities. “Certainly that would be a weapon,” said Trump.
The court went on to say that, Trump appointees had made enough public statements about using defunding as a weapon, that it was likely that the federal government would terminate funding per the order. There existed a clear risk that sanctuary cities would suffer concrete injury because of the executive action and therefore had standing to sue.
Judge Orrick focused a significant portion of his 28-page opinion on the constitutionality of Executive Order 13,768. Since usurping power, Trump has repeatedly expressed frustration and criticism of the legislative process. As of today, he has signed more than 50 executive orders in a despotic attempt to singlehandedly legislate everything from immigration law to healthcare. The federal court held that Trump’s order is an attempt to exercise powers he does not hold, and that it “runs afoul” of fundamental constitutional structure.
“After a bill becomes law, the President is required to ‘take Care that the Law be faithfully executed.’ See U.S. Const. art. II, § 3, cl. 5. Where Congress has failed to give the President discretion in allocating funds, the President has no constitutional authority to withhold such funds and violates his obligation to faithfully execute the laws duly enacted by Congress if he does so.”
Trump is on pace to sign more than 60 executive orders per year on average. The last person to ink pseudo-legislation that quickly was President Jimmy Carter. The major difference between the two is that Carter’s concerns were at least primarily humanitarian, while Trump’s seem to be egotistically personal.
The case of San Francisco v. Donald Trump is significant for more than the question of immigration. It is important because it demonstrates how Trump attempts to propagate his personal opinions through manipulation and abuses of power. The United States relies on a 240-year-old system of government that is imperfect and slow, but designed to protect the rights of the many.
On Monday, the District Court did more than affirm the right of a city and its people; it affirmed the rights of every American by limiting Donald Trump’s power. By extending the injunctive relief nationwide and invalidating provisions of the executive order, the court spoke for a nation — one trying to regain its status as a global leader and a beacon of hope for all.