In another blow, a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday, Aug. 1 ruled that it is illegal for the Trump administration to retain federal funding from California’s “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

Previously, President Donald Trump issued an executive order in which he threatened to withhold government funding to cities that identified as sanctuary cities, cities that have limited their cooperation with federal immigration agencies. 

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, concluded that the president doesn’t have the authority to issue that request.

“Absent congressional authorization, the administration may not redistribute or withhold properly appropriated funds in order to effectuate its own policy goals,” Chief Judge Sidney Thomas and Judge Ronald Gould wrote in the court’s opinion. 

“By its plain terms, the executive order directs the agencies of the executive branch to withhold funds appropriated by Congress in order to further the administration’s policy objective of punishing cities and counties that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies,” added Thomas and Gould, both of whom were nominated by former President Bill Clinton. 

Though the Trump administration hasn’t indicated whether or not it will appeal the ruling, Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, deemed the Wednesday ruling a win for “criminal aliens who can continue to commit crimes knowing that the state’s leadership will protect them from federal immigration officers.”

However, according to lawmakers, sanctuary laws do not protect criminals, but rather prohibits notifying federal agencies — such as the controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — of an inmate’s release from county jail, or sharing any other information that could lead to the detention of certain undocumented immigrants.

The exceptions to that are if the information is already made public, or the person in question has been convicted of any of the 800 offenses — including sexual assault, domestic violence, arson and some nonviolent drug charges — detailed in a 2013 law, the Trust Act. 

The court’s Wednesday ruling is likely to be challenged by the Trump administration, legal analysts say, but by the off chance the administration doesn’t appeal, the case will return to the district court where a nationwide injunction could be implemented.

Many California leaders celebrated the ruling, including San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who described the president’s executive order as a “power grab” that violates the Constitution.

“San Francisco’s sanctuary policies make our city safer by encouraging anyone who has been a victim or witness to a crime to tell police,” Herrera said. “When a president overreaches and tries to assert authority he doesn’t have under the Constitution, there needs to be a check on that power grab. The courts did that today, which is exactly what the framers of the Constitution have in mind.” (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)

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