Seattle will sue President Donald Trump for his January 25 executive order that threatened to withhold federal money to sanctuary cities that don't comply with efforts to deport undocumented immigrants, mayor Ed Murray announced Wednesday.
Murray said the threat to withhold federal grants from cities is unconstitutional and that the administration's "war on facts has now become a war on cities." The announcement comes just two days after U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions called to end sanctuary cities and criticized their policies as a threat to public safety.
"Let me be clear about the facts. We are not breaking any laws and we are prioritizing safety," Murray said.
According to the City, Seattle anticipates at least $55 million worth of federal funding for operating expenses this year.
Despite the federal administration's threats against sanctuary cities, it's unclear whether Trump actually planned to risk liability by withholding money. Murray and city attorney Pete Holmes said important precedents in federal courts showed local governments should not enforce federal law and "would face civil liability, ironically, under federal law," Murray said.
But he said the lawsuit was important to provide a clear "statement of the law" for immigrants and cities that would be affected.
"This is really important and emotional for the both of us," said council member Debora Juarez, who is Native, acknowledging Latina council member Loréna González. "We actually have lived this life and we have lived this life professionally. ... I can only say that we are going to continue to fight. We are not going to give up."