Court rules Trump’s sanctuary executive order is unconstitutional

After earlier victories brought a temporary reprieve, Herrera wins permanent ruling that removes threat to federally funded programs across the country

City Attorney Dennis Herrera at a press conference Jan. 31, 2017 announcing his lawsuit against President Trump for his unconstitutional executive order targeting sanctuary cities.

SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 20, 2017) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today released the following statement on the U.S. District Court issuing a permanent injunction prohibiting the federal government from enforcing President Donald Trump’s unconstitutional executive order that sought to strip federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions:

“This is a victory for the American people and the rule of law. This executive order was unconstitutional before the ink on it was even dry.

We live in a democracy. No one is above the law, including the president. President Trump might be able to tweet whatever comes to mind, but he can’t grant himself new authority because he feels like it. When you have a president who describes our judicial system as ‘a joke,’ the value of three equal branches of government becomes even clearer. This case is a check on the president’s abuse of power, which is exactly what the framers of the Constitution had in mind.

The only way to stop a bully is to stand up to him. That’s what San Francisco has done.

I’m grateful that we’ve been able to protect billions of dollars that help some of the most vulnerable Americans. We’re talking about low-income families, seniors, foster children and people with disabilities. This is money that helps provides food, health care and a roof over their heads. It’s money that pays for bridges and public transit. Those are the programs this administration targeted in its misguided attempt to vilify immigrants.

Let me be clear. San Francisco follows federal immigration law. The federal government has always been free to enforce immigration law in San Francisco, just like it can anywhere else in the country. We do not harbor criminals. The federal government knows who is in our jails. If they think someone is dangerous, all they need is a criminal warrant.

But our teachers, doctors and police officers cannot be conscripted into becoming immigration agents. 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. We are a safer community when people can report a crime, bring a loved one to the doctor or take their kids to school without worrying it could lead to a family member being deported.

This president and his administration have been trying to twist facts, stoke fears and demonize immigrants to score cheap political points. The American people are too smart for that. From the framers of our Constitution to the hardworking families in our cities and towns, we are a nation of immigrants. People come here to help build America and build a better life for their families. They’re fighting for the American dream. It’s time for this administration to stop trying to divide our schools, our neighborhoods and our country. The federal immigration system has been broken for a long time. Building a wall is not the answer. It’s time for bipartisan reform that recognizes the contributions immigrants make to our communities and our economy. They have built families, businesses and homes here. Tearing that apart doesn’t make sense for anyone.”


San Francisco on Jan. 31, 2017 became the first entity to sue Trump over his executive order to strip federal funding from “sanctuary jurisdictions.” Santa Clara County and other local governments soon followed. San Francisco had about $2 billion at stake. That included $1.2 billion in annual operating funds, or about 13 percent of San Francisco’s budget; and another $800 million in multi-year federal grants that are not part of the annual operating budget and used primarily for large infrastructure projects, like bridges, roads and public transportation.

That lawsuit is the first of two that Herrera has brought against the Trump administration over federal funding for sanctuary cities. The second lawsuit, filed Aug. 11, 2017, seeks to invalidate grant conditions that U.S. Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions III separately sought to place on a group of U.S. Department of Justice grants for local law enforcement. Those conditions came after the court preliminarily enjoined enforcement of the executive order in April. San Francisco’s case that challenged the executive order is about limits on what the president can do. San Francisco’s case challenging the grant conditions is about limits on what the attorney general can do. That case is ongoing.

Today’s order also discussed San Francisco’s claim for relief that its sanctuary laws comply with federal law. The court did not rule on this claim, and instead stated it will consider that issue in the Sessions lawsuit.

The cases are: City and County of San Francisco v. Donald J. Trump, et al., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Case No. 3:17-cv-00485, filed Jan. 31, 2017. City and County of San Francisco v. Jefferson B. Sessions III, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Case No. 3:17-cv-04642, filed Aug. 11, 2017. Additional documentation from the case is available on the City Attorney’s website at:


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