Donald Trump’s White House issues furious attack on ‘unelected’ judge who blocked sanctuary cities order

White House says city officials ‘who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands’ 

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Wednesday 26 April 2017 09:53 BST
President Donald Trump poses for a portrait in the Oval Office
President Donald Trump poses for a portrait in the Oval Office (AP)

Donald Trump’s administration has issued a furious attack on the federal judge who blocked the executive order calling for the withdrawal of funds from sanctuary cities, claiming that it put “thousands of innocent lives at risk”.

A blistering statement from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the block an “egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge”. He accused sanctuary cities of “putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens” and claimed city officials who authorised policies to protect people living in the country illegally “have the blood of dead Americans on their hands”.

Dozens of sanctuary cities across America, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, offer safe harbour to illegal immigrants and generally do not allow the use of local funds for federal immigration requests, such as holding inmates in local jails for up to 48 hours after their release date to allow officials the chance to detain them further.

San Francisco district judge William Orrick III issued a temporary ruling on Tuesday blocking the order targeting cities that protect immigrants from deportation. The ruling was in response to two California governments, San Francisco and Santa Clara County, which argued the order threatened the loss of billions of dollars in federal funding. The block will stay in place as the lawsuit moves through the courts.

In his ruling, the judge rejected the government’s argument that only a relatively small pot of money would be affected by the executive order. He said the order targeted broad categories of federal funding for sanctuary governments and that the president cannot set new conditions on spending that has been approved by Congress.

US Sanctuary Cities: We in California have a responsibility to say 'no'

Mr Trump’s administration claims that sanctuary cities allow dangerous criminals back on the street and that the order is needed to keep the country safe. San Francisco and other sanctuary cities have said that turning local police into immigration officers erodes the trust that is needed to get people to report crime.

The White House statement said the decision from district judge Orrick “occurred in the same sanctuary city that released the five-time deported illegal immigrant who gunned down innocent Kate Steinle in her father’s arms. San Francisco, and cities like it, are putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens, and those city officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands.

“This San Francisco judge’s erroneous ruling is a gift to the criminal gang and cartel element in our country, empowering the worst kind of human trafficking and sex trafficking, and putting thousands of innocent lives at risk.”

San Francisco’s city attorney Dennis Herrera hit back at the White House, saying that President Trump should stop using the death of Ms Steinle to politicise the issue of sanctuary cities.

Mr Herrera praised the temporary ruling and said the president had been “forced to back down”.

"This is why we have courts — to halt the overreach of a president and an attorney general who either don't understand the Constitution or chose to ignore it," he said in a statement.

White House chief of staff Reince Preibus called the ruling “the 9th circuit going bananas,” referring to the West Coast judicial circuit where the ruling was made. He told reporters the administration is taking action to appeal the ruling and is confident the government will “win at the Supreme Court level”.

Additional reporting by agencies

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