US appeals court: Trump 'sanctuary cities' order is illegal


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — President Donald Trump's executive order threatening to withhold funding from "sanctuary cities" that limit cooperation with immigration authorities is unconstitutional, but a judge went too far when he blocked its enforcement nationwide, a U.S. appeals court ruled today.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed the order exceeded the president's authority.

"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 wrote for the majority.

But he also said there wasn't enough evidence to support a nationwide ban on the order and sent the case back to the lower court for more hearings on that question.

An email to a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department was not immediately returned.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick said in November the order threatened all federal funding and the president did not have the authority to attach new conditions to spending that was approved by Congress.

The ruling came in lawsuits filed by two California counties – San Francisco and Santa Clara. The executive order potentially jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to the two counties, Orrick said, citing comments by Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions as evidence of the order's scope.

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