A California federal judge on Tuesday blocked U.S. president Donald Trump's policy to withhold funding from sanctuary cities, marking a precedent that could be significant to Seattle's own lawsuit against the administration.
Seattle mayor Ed Murray last month announced the lawsuit against Trump's administration for his January 25 executive order and threat to withhold federal grants to cities welcoming to undocumented immigrants. The federal government has another month to answer to the complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court on March 29.
U.S. District judge William Orrick's nationwide injunction issued Tuesday involves two lawsuits, filed by San Francisco and Santa Clara County. Seattle and King County don't cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to detain undocumented immigrants unless they come with a warrant.
Murray has said the lawsuit intends to provide a "clear statement of the law" for cities and immigrants that would be affected by Trump's policy of withholding federal money. Alongside the lawsuit, the city has also created a $1 million legal defense fund for immigrants facing civil cases.
Michael Ryan, assistant city attorney, said, "It's incredibly good news" for Seattle. The impact of the ruling, however, remains to be seen, he said. Murray's office said the city's legal team is reviewing the ruling with its national counsel, Andrew Pincus.
Ryan said the city's still at the early stages of litigation, and there's not much understanding in terms of what the government intends to do. Some sort of ruling from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals would become binding to other federal courts, including the Western District of Washington.
"We don't know if the government is going to appeal at this point. That will inform our case going forward," Ryan said.
Council member Lorena González—whose parents were undocumented—Murray, and U.S. representative Pramila Jayapal issued statements Tuesday in response to the injunction.
“Today’s victory in court proves once again that when cities stand with their immigrant and refugee communities, they win," González said. "Trump is not only on the wrong side of history, but the wrong side of the law. Seattle, and welcoming cities across the nation, will continue to stand hand in hand with our immigrant and refugee families, friends, and neighbors.”
"Whether it's his Muslim ban or threats to sanctuary cities, it seems President Trump's attempts to institutionalize xenophobia cannot pass constitutional muster," Jayapal said.