Though the battle is far from over regarding the country's sanctuary cities, President Trump's strong rhetoric regarding how he planned to punish cities that stuck by their guns to shelter illegal immigrants maybe just that, rhetoric. As ABC 7 reports, in a hearing Friday in federal court in San Francisco, Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler tried to make the case that San Francisco and Santa Clara counties did not need to be suing the government because they had not faced any penalties yet. And he suggested that they stood to lose far less than the $1 billion in federal funding that was originally anticipated under the President's January executive order, so everyone just needs to calm down.
Readler told U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick, "We don’t know yet exactly how the policy is going to be applied," according to the LA Times. He said the penalties would likely apply "only to a limited range of grants" from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, and may not amount to any dollars lost at all for San Francisco (and perhaps about $1 million for Santa Clara County). Readler added, "We don’t know whether there will be any enforcement action and what it will look like."
U.C. Hastings Professor David Levine commented to ABC 7, "The Justice Department seemed to be saying, well we're not doing anything to them right now, so what's the need for any litigation right now, we're all friends."
But Mollie Lee from the San Francisco City Attorney's Office wasn't having it, and told the station, "[The President's action] was an attempt to bully jurisdictions like San Francisco and Santa Clara into abandoning their sanctuary city status through the use of an unconstitutional executive order."
And an attorney representing Santa Clara County, John W. Keker, said in a statement, "The government argument boils down to the hope that President Trump and Atty. Gen. Sessions won’t do what they are saying they are going to do with this executive order."
Under questioning from Judge Orrick, Readler agreed that the Trump administration "could not put new conditions on federal funds already authorized by Congress," per the LA Times. And Orrick said he would issue a ruling as soon as possible.
San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties are seeking an injunction against the executive order that would apply nationwide.