A federal judge in San Francisco ruled on Tuesday that President Trump's executive order threatening to cut funding from "sanctuary cities" and attempting to deputize local law enforcement to carry out immigration enforcement is unconstitutional.
For officials in Seattle and King County, both of which have been threatened by the Trump administration over ordinances that prohibit employees from asking about a person's immigration status, Judge William Orrick's ruling affirmed their position.
"It's bullying, it's intimidation, and this is the court recognizing that it's illegal to be making threats to pull grant funding," King County Council chair Joe McDermott said on Tuesday. "And, as I've said the whole time, King County complies with federal code."
Last week, King County officials received a letter from the Department of Justice threatening to withhold federal grants. The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office offered a cautious response to Orrick's ruling.
"It remains to be seen if the Department of Justice is dissuaded by court rulings like the one issued today," King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said by e-mail on Tuesday.
In March, the City of Seattle sued the Trump administration over similar threats. The city argued that forcing local governments to enforce federal law is unconstitutional, and that Seattle, like King County, already does comply with information sharing with the federal government under US Code 1373.
"We are pleased with Judge Orrick’s decision," deputy city attorney John Schochet said. "This decision validates the position we’ve taken in the sanctuary cities lawsuit we filed together with the City of Portland, which has been stayed pending the outcome of the Santa Clara case."