A U.S. appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration’s executive order withholding funding from sanctuary cities — municipalities that limit their cooperation on immigration enforcement — was unconstitutional.
However, the court ruling also overturned a lower-court decision that blocked the order nationwide, saying that there was not enough evidence to support such a ruling.
"Absent congressional authorization, the administration may not redistribute or withhold properly appropriated funds in order to effectuate its own policy goals,” wrote Chief Judge Sidney Thomas in the majority opinion. “The United States Constitution exclusively grants the power of the purse to Congress, not the president.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of two counties in California, Santa Clara and San Francisco. The counties sued the Trump administration over an executive order, issued just days after Trump took office, that declared jurisdictions not cooperative with federal immigration authorities were "not eligible for federal grants."
While the Trump administration would later state that this concerned only a limited scope of federal grants, U.S. District Judge William Orrick said the order could potentially cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in funds for the two counties.
The U.S. Justice Department previously claimed the lower-court decision granting the injunction "stray[ed] far beyond the traditional, proper role of federal courts." The injunction remained in place for California, as the court ruled that there was enough evidence that the state had been targeted specifically by the Trump administration.
The Trump administration has taken a hard-line stance on immigration, having issued a multitude of executive orders aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration to the United States.