Final victory for San Francisco in sanctuary city case against Trump administration

USDOJ drops appeal, U.S. Supreme Court dismisses case

SAN FRANCISCO (March 4, 2021) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera released the following statement today regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to drop its appeal in a case about withholding federal law enforcement grants from sanctuary cities. San Francisco had sued the Trump administration over the policy and won at the federal district court and the court of appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case today.

“This is a vindication for those who fought for the last four years to stop the overreach of a president who had no respect for the Constitution. The rule of law has carried the day once again.  Every court that has looked at this found that San Francisco’s sanctuary laws and policies comply with federal law. We’re glad this issue has finally been put to rest.”

“Federal officials can do their job in San Francisco, just like anywhere else in the country. San Francisco is not stopping them. But we were not about to let our police, firefighters and nurses be commandeered and turned into the Trump administration’s deportation force. Communities are safer when residents aren’t afraid to take their children to the doctor, call the fire department in an emergency, or go to the police if they’ve been the victim of a crime. Breaking up hardworking families doesn’t make anyone safer.”

About the Ruling
Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss the case comes after the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its appeal of a March 4, 2019 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That ruling both confirmed San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinances are lawful and invalidated grant conditions that the Trump administration had tried to use to deny funding to sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld an Oct. 5, 2018 ruling from Judge William H. Orrick of the Northern District of California that found, among other things, that the conditions the Trump administration was trying to place on certain law enforcement grants were unconstitutional and that San Francisco is in compliance with Section 8 U.S.C. § 1373.Section 8 U.S.C. § 1373 is a statute that prohibits state and local governments from restricting information-sharing with the Department of Homeland Security. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order prohibiting the grant conditions from being applied in San Francisco and California.

Case Background
Herrera filed the lawsuit on Aug. 11, 2017 in a coordinated approach with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The state of California filed suit shortly after.  The ruling covers grant conditions for fiscal year 2017 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants. Herrera filed a separate case on Aug. 22, 2018 over similar conditions the Trump administration is trying to place on fiscal 2018 grants. The district court also struck down the grant conditions in that case.

The cases are: City and County of San Francisco v. William P. Barr, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Case No. 3:17-cv-04642, filed Aug. 11, 2017, and City and County of San Francisco v. William P. Barr, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Case No. 3:18-cv-05146-JCS, filed Aug. 22, 2018. Additional documentation is available on the City Attorney’s website at:

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